A massive vaccination drive is under way at Humansdorp following a confirmed case of rabies in the area. Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said the focus of the campaign would be on the area surrounding the first confirmed case, as well as high-risk areas nearby. “Almost 600 pet dogs and cats from Gill Marcus and lower Vaaldam were vaccinated against the disease on Tuesday,” he said. “The campaign will continue at the Kruisfontein Civic Centre from 09:30 to 12:00 today (Thursday), with the focus on pets from Arcadia and Johnson’s Ridge.” Hendricks said rabies was a deadly disease which affected both people and animals. “It is, therefore, critical that we prevent the virus from spreading by creating a ‘safe zone’ of vaccinated animals. “The more animals are vaccinated, the lower the risk that people will contract it as well.”He said a joint operations centre (JOC) had been established on Monday following confirmation from a local veterinarian that a pet dog from Arcadia had contracted rabies.“We would like to thank state veterinarian Dr Jared Strydom, our local SPCA and the municipality’s Environmental Health section for their quick response,” he said. “They will be vaccinating pets in the Arcadia area, surrounding the first diagnosed case, over the coming days to minimise the risk of the disease spreading. “Although the risk to pet owners in well-established suburban areas is much lower, we urge the public to ensure that their pet’s annual vaccinations are up to date. “Dogs and cats should be vaccinated at three months of age, then before one year of age, and then together with their annual vaccinations thereafter.”He said it was unknown how the dog had contracted the disease, but that it had most likely been bitten by a rabid mongoose or other sick animal.Dr Anthony Davis from the Humansdorp Vet Clinic, who identified the first case, said animals with rabies typically behaved differently to normal.“Symptoms can include sudden aggression, salivation, difficulty walking, falling over or struggling to swallow,” he said.“Other diseases can also have similar symptoms, but we advise residents, especially in Arcadia where the positive case was identified, to be aware of these symptoms and to report animals showing these symptoms to the SPCA or to their local veterinarian.”The Mayor cautioned that rabies was transmissible to humans via saliva or a bite from an infected animal. “If a member of the public thinks they have had contact with a rabid dog, the first step is to present the dog to the SPCA or their vet so that the diagnosis can be confirmed. “If the veterinary officials agree that the animal has symptoms of rabies, the animal will be euthanised and sent for rabies testing.”For more information on the current vaccination drive in Kruisfontein, visit www.facebook.com/kouganews.