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Rabies outbreak claims life of nine-year-old boy

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Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality recently conducted an anti–rabies vaccination drive in Wells Estate.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality recently conducted an anti–rabies vaccination drive in Wells Estate.

A nine-year-old boy from Motherwell has died from rabies on Thursday, 9 September after he was bitten by a dog.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Acting Executive Mayor, Luxolo Namette, has sent his condolences to the family of the boy who succumbed to the canine rabies, following the outbreak of the virus in the City recently.

This comes after the City cautioned residents and pet owners in the City to be vigilant and protect themselves from the outbreak of canine rabies that has spread throughout the City.

According to a statement issued by the Municipality, new information from the Health Department during a Joint Operations Committee meeting confirmed the loss of life of the boy.

“We have learnt with sadness the passing of a nine-year-old from Motherwell who has died due to rabies. We would like to send our condolences to the family. Their loss cuts deep as we do not ever expect our children to leave us when they are so young. We are with the family in prayer,” the Acting Mayor said.

The boy passed away at the Dora Nginza Hospital where it was also established that he had been bitten by a dog.

“Our Public Health officials, together with the Department of Agrarian Reform have been busy these last couple of months vaccinating dogs and cats in an effort to curb the virus, as we know that rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease and post-bite vaccinations can also save lives. Vaccinating domestic animals such as dogs and cats is the most cost-effective way for preventing rabies in people.

"Dog vaccination reduces deaths attributable to dog-mediated rabies. But we have noted a significant increase in the number of cases during August and September. That is why we are calling on all residents to be vigilant and for the owners of unvaccinated domestic pets to bring their animals for vaccination in accordance with the vaccination schedule issued by the Municipality from time to time. Our staff members will continue with the vaccination and community education program is on-going,” Namette said.

What to look out for

Incubation and symptoms of a rabies infection:

  • The incubation period for rabies is typically 2–3 months but may vary from 1 week to 1 year, dependent upon factors such as the location of virus in the body, the entry site, and the viral load.
  • Initial symptoms of rabies include a fever with pain and unusual or unexplained tingling, pricking, or burning sensation at the wound site.
  • As the virus spreads through the human body to the central nervous system, progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops.

Residents are encouraged to contact the NMBM Dog Control Unit on 041 506 1743 and 066 077 1773 during office hours for all local rabies updates.

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