The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) continues to see an unprecedented outbreak of Rabies across the country.

South Africa, Johannesburg: Since June 2021, the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) has seen an alarming increase in Rabies cases across all nine provinces. High-risk dog rabies cycles are focused in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces, as well as the border between Lesotho and Free State Province. To date specifically in the Eastern Cape region, reports from the National Rabies Advisory Group (RAG) suggest that the Eastern Cape has had 1 195 laboratory test-positive animal cases (ARC-OVR and Allerton PVL laboratories) and according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), eight probable human deaths have been reported due to rabies.

Rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it is passed from infected animals to humans – dogs and cats are the main source of transmission to humans and is transmitted through saliva, most commonly through bite wounds. It has a dramatic effect on the brain and once clinical signs become visible, there is no curative treatment, and it is fatal.  According to modern statistics, this terrible virus kills at least one person in the world every 9 minutes. More than 70 000 people die from it each year according to The World Organisation for Animal Health of which about 95% of these deaths occur in Africa and Asia.

Rabies is a virus that affects the brain, leading to nervous signs and behavioural changes. Clinical signs such as incoordination, drooling, paralysis, abnormal howling or vocalisation, aggression, decreased responsiveness and other behavioural changes, may be indicative of rabies in animals.

Dr Renee Van Oudtshoorn, from Optima CVC on behalf of the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) says “To protect animals, family, and the community at large – pet owners must vaccinate their dogs and cats. By law, all dogs and cats in South Africa must be vaccinated against rabies. However, it is never too late for your pet to receive their first vaccination, followed by the booster protocol”.

Should a person get bitten by an animal and there is reason to suspect rabies from the animal’s behaviour and history (e.g. not vaccinated), the patient needs to wash the wound well with soap and running water and seek medical attention immediately (rabies preventative treatment will

include a series of rabies vaccines and immunoglobulin injected into the wound if the skin has been breached). Bite victims can still receive immunoglobulin up to 7 days after initial treatment, although it should be done immediately. It is important for pet owners to remember that not only stray dogs can be affected, it can also be transmitted to household pets via infected saliva – no need to bite.

The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) encourages all pet owners to visit their private veterinarian or state veterinary office and make the responsible choice of vaccinating their beloved dogs and cats.

For any further information or to report a suspected rabies-infected animal, please call:

  • The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) 011 386 6400
  • The Eastern Cape Health Department call centre 0800 032 364 | SMS 34010 | Eastern Cape Premium Hotline 080 121 2570
  • Dog Control PE (041) 506-1743 or (041) 506-5232

Basic vaccination programme for dogs:

  • First vaccine: 12 weeks old
  • 2ndvaccine: 4 months old
  • 3rdvaccine: 1 year old
  • Going forward: yearly

Basic vaccination programme for cats:

  • First Vaccine: 12 weeks old
  • 2ndvaccine: 4 months old
  • 3rdvaccine: 1 year old
  • Going forward: yearly

For more information, please visit the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) website, Facebook or Twitter page.

Source: SAVA



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.