By ZIMKITA LINYANA
Local veterinary clinics have confirmed a case of rabies in a dog. From a suburban area, the dog was young and unvaccinated and visited a farm recently where the animal was likely exposed.
Dr Annie Mears of the Grahamstown Veterinary Clinic said a state vet had confirmed the case. Mears said residents should remain vigilant, but there was no need to panic as there were no signs that the town was experiencing an outbreak. Sporadic cases are commonly seen on farmlands, she added.
The best available measure to prevent rabies is vaccination. Rabies vaccinations are available for cats and dogs and other animals. Dogs that are not vaccinated have a higher risk of infection with rabies.
“If your animal is not vaccinated for rabies, remember you can always get a free vaccine from the state vet and from private vets,” Mears said. Some private vets charge a reduced cost of R40, and some provide the service free of charge.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain. Any warm-blooded animal can be infected with Rabies. It is spread through contact with the saliva of a rabid animal. Some known symptoms of rabies in animals include unusual behaviour, salivation or signs of paralysis.
According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, rabies has been an endemic disease in South Africa for many years. It is reported in various parts of the country involving different animal species.
Known, ongoing rabies cycles exist in domestic dogs, black-backed jackals, mongoose species, and bat-eared foxes in different locations in the country.
”The institute cautions that in cases where humans have been exposed to rabies, usually through bites and scratches from rabid animals, all wounds must be washed thoroughly with soap and water. After that, rabies post-exposure prophylaxis must be sought immediately at a healthcare facility to prevent the infection.
“Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is the thorough cleaning of the wound site/s followed by rabies vaccination and immunoglobulin therapy. https://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/rabies/