Drop in rabies jabs in KZN a cause for alarm

Drop rabies

Dr Vanessa Meyer says it is every pet owner’s duty to make sure their pet is vaccinated against rabies, whether the owner thinks it is safe or not.

Nearly 50 positive rabies cases in dogs have already been recorded in KZN this year, and it is only June.

State Vet for the King Cetshwayo District, Dr Vanessa Meyer, said this year’s stats did not paint a good picture to the trained eye.

“Looking back at the figures of previous years, by May 2017 we had 25 positive dogs in KZN, and by May 2018 we had already had 111. We are currently on 47 positive dogs for this year so far,” said Dr Meyer.

While it might look like there is a decline in rabies cases this year, she said a serious threat persists as they have seen a decline in rabies vaccinations along the coastline.

“This is due to the very real persistent threat of vehicle hijackings while conducting mass vaccination campaigns. The public needs to be more pro-active in getting their animals vaccinated, and not expect the vaccine to come to them.”

She said the vaccination of dogs in South Africa was a legal requirement and was the responsibility of the pet owner.

“No single person is excused from having their dogs vaccinated against rabies.”

She warned people living in estates on the Dolphin Coast not to get complacent thinking their pets were safe and therefore did not need to be vaccinated.

“It is not uncommon for dogs to get bitten on the nose through a fence or a gate and many a beloved pet confined to a garden has developed rabies this way. The owner has a false sense of security and believes they are above the law. The risk in Ballito is very real and a rabid dog will cover a great many kilometres.”

The rules are clear when it comes to a pet being bitten by a rabid animal and the consequences can be heartbreaking.

“Should any pet be bitten by a rabid animal and a valid rabies vaccination certificate cannot be produced, that pet must be euthanased as the risk of it contracting rabies is too great. There are no exceptions, no matter how loved that pet may be.”

It is important to remember that while dog rabies is the biggest threat, according to Dr Meyer other animals can also be the carrier of the deadly virus.

“A rabid cat or mongoose will enter any property with ease, and a number of human deaths can be attributed to cat bites.”

Do not be fooled by the wagging tail

Rabid animals are not always the aggressive, snarling, salivating beasts they are made out to be – they might be calm and relaxed.

“There is a change in behaviour so a wild or aggressive animal may become tame. There is also a dumb form of rabies where the animal will be subdued. Rabid dogs and puppies often wag their tails due to stimulation of the nervous system, and so can frequently appear friendly.

“Even the experts get tricked by the vast plethora of rabies symptoms. The best advice is to never approach or touch a strange animal.”

Dr Meyer said the incubation period of rabies varies from a week to many years, but typically it is less than six months.

“Rabies can only be transmitted by an animal when it is sick with rabies, and also during the time immediately preceding symptoms. Rabies is 100 percent fatal. If an animal is still alive ten days after the onset of symptoms, then it does not have rabies.”

The disease can only reliably be confirmed by the examination of brain tissue said Dr Meyer.

“There is no accurate test in the living animal.”

Source: The North Coast Courier

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Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.