The KwaZulu-Natal department of agriculture and rural development recently confirmed that there is a rabies outbreak in the province. The areas most affected are: the South Coast, Durban, iLembe District and the eMpangeni and Richard’s Bay areas.
The department confirmed the outbreak on 28 February 2018, to date, two cases of children being bitten have already been reported. Unfortunately, both children lost their lives to the virus.
The department launched a vaccination programme in October 2017 and will continue to urge people to come forth and vaccinate their pets, especially during this time. This programme will especially be pushed in rural areas where access to veterinary medication is rare.The department said they are doing all they can to make sure the vaccination drive reaches all areas in the provinces, but they have asked the public to stay vigilant and alert.
Also read: Why dog attacks happen
Rabies is a disease that targets the brain caused by virus that can affect humans and other warm blooded animals. The virus is transmitted through saliva from being in contact with an animal, this is normally through bites but it can also be transmitted through scratches, licks and any cuts on the skin. Early signs include fever or headaches, loss of appetite and vomiting, this will progress to trouble swallowing, agitation, confusion, loss of muscle movement.
These symptoms do not always start immediately, so do not wait until they are present. If you worry your child has been exposed to the virus, see a doctor immediately. Once symptoms have developed, they can lead to a coma or death.
Here is what you can do to keep you and your family safe:
- Avoid any contact with stray animals.
- If you have any pets, make sure they get vaccinated
- Limit your pet’s exposure to other animals. They could be infected and pass on the virus to your pets.
- Leave animals alone when they’re eating – this could agitate them
- If you’re searching for a pet at the moment, ask the about the pet’s background and make sure to vaccinate them immediately
Also read: Top tips for avoiding rabies!
If you suspect your child has rabies, please do the following:
- Contact a healthcare provider
- Tell them where your child has been bitten or scratched
- What animal attached your child
- How many times your child was exposed to said animal
- If the animal presented signs of being ill
- Get the animal tested for the virus
Remember to contact your doctor or a healthcare professional if you suspect your child has contacted the virus.
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