NICD sounds alarm over increase in human rabies cases in South Africa

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The NICD says rabies cases are on the rise.
The NICD says rabies cases are on the rise.
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  • There have been 17 laboratory confirmed human rabies cases in South Africa in 2021.
  • In the past two months, six cases have been confirmed. 
  • Majority of the cases have been in the Eastern Cape.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is concerned by the increase in human rabies cases, with 17 cases confirmed so far this year.

On Wednesday, the NICD said that six cases of human rabies had been confirmed in the past two months, with the Eastern Cape having the most (four) while KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo recorded one case each.

"As of 23 November 2021, a total of seventeen laboratory confirmed human rabies cases have been reported in South Africa. The latter were reported from Eastern Cape (n=9), KwaZulu-Natal (n=4) and Limpopo (n=4) provinces. Although cases are reported annually in South Africa, the occurrence of cases in these provinces has increased compared to previous years," said the NICD. 

READ | SA delays Covid-19 vaccine deliveries because it has too much stock

In 2020, there were eight laboratory confirmed cases, 10 for 2019, 16 for 2018, six for 2017 and one for 2016. 

The NICD said that the increase in cases in the Eastern Cape was driven by outbreaks of rabies in domestic dogs, particularly in the Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City districts, where more than 400 cases of rabies in dogs had been confirmed by 18 November 2021. 

In KwaZulu-Natal, the eThekwini and King Cetshwayo districts had been most affected, with nearly 300 cases of rabies in dogs reported.

"The first occurrence of dog rabies cases in the Cape Town surrounds in decades have also been reported in recent months. A total of four dog cases were reported from Khayelitsha and Gordon's Bay. No additional cases have been reported since mid-October 2021. To date, no human rabies cases have been reported from the Western Cape province," said the NICD. 

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