KZN to launch rabies awareness campaign

2015-07-29 08:53

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WITH a staggering 65 000 people bitten by dogs in KwaZulu-Natal each year, an education drive has been launched to raise awareness about the fatal rabies disease.

A press statement released by Netcare and Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) said recent reports have shown that while the statistics of dog bites per year in KZN are startling, the number of rabies cases is decreasing.

“Indications are that the war against rabies is being won, with human rabies cases in the region steadily decreasing from six in 2007 to zero in 2014.”

GARC and World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Daniel Stewart said in the statement the cases of canine rabies were even more “remarkable” with figures down from 472 in 2007 to 37 in 2014.

“However, now is not the time to rest on our laurels, on the contrary, it remains very important to educate and inform the public about the dangers of rabies and how best to prevent the spread of this disease at a community level,” said Stewart.

With the average age of those bitten by dogs ranging between 11 and 15 years old, Netcare and GARC decided that educating children on the signs of rabies would prove vital in preventing the spread of the deadly virus.

Netcare’s trauma injury prevention (TIP) programme managers and GARC created an informative booklet, supported by WHO, to educate children on the dangers of rabies.

Netcare Milpark Hospital trauma programme manager Rene Grobler said yesterday that the booklet would be used to close the gap on education on rabies and work on a combined front to prevent the spread of the disease.

She said the booklet was in the process of being translated into Zulu and ­distributed countrywide and through the endorsement of the African Medical Federation would eventually be distributed to other African countries.

Netcare Union Hospital trauma programme manager Amanda Klette said in the statement that despite rabies being a 100% fatal disease, once symptoms occur, “it is easily preventable through the vaccination of your pets, as well as timely medical attention in the case of possible exposure”.

“Through education, we aim to limit unnecessary dog bite incidents — especially those involving children, the most affected group — and therefore eliminate rabies in humans through prevention,” said Klette.

Spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, Mr Sam Mkhwanazi, said: “As the emphasis of the Department of Health is on human health, the Department, through Community Care Givers, Operation Sukuma Sakhe, as well as the dissemination of education and communication material, runs awareness campaigns about rabies.

“These campaigns include explaining to communities what rabies is, how it is spread, its symptoms in human beings (such as, among others, headache and fever, irritability, restlessness, mental disorder, vomiting, hydrophobia and profuse salivating), and what to do when a human being has been bitten by an animal with rabies. For more information, the public is urged to contact their nearest clinic.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  rabies  |  dog

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