Source:         News24 (Extract)
October 27, 2021

A fourth case of rabies was confirmed in Cape Town, with the Animal Welfare Society of SA (AWS) issuing a red alert to all pet owners in the Mother City.

According to the senior state veterinarian, Lesley van Helden, a stray dog was found at Strand Beach on 14 October, and was taken to a local veterinary clinic for treatment. Agriculture’s veterinary services held a two-day, rabies vaccination drive in the Strand area.

“On 17 October, the dog developed a sudden loss of coordination and change in behaviour, and became aggressive. The dog has since been euthanised and subsequently tested positive for rabies,” she said.

The Western Cape Department, earlier this month, the department intervened when a case was detected in Gordon’s Bay. 

In that case, the dog was also confirmed to have had rabies.

The animal had contact with a medium-sized “aggressive” dog, which had attacked other dogs in the area during the first week of September. The dog was subsequently put down.

Van Helden said, in response to the case in Gordon’s Bay, the department’s veterinary services held free rabies vaccination campaigns and vaccinated 1,896 pets in the area.

“This will now be bolstered by two more free rabies vaccination campaigns this week,” she added.

The department urged all pet owners to vaccinate their animals against rabies as soon as possible.

The department encouraged residents to visit its sites in Strand, and have their pets vaccinated free of charge.

The last day for pets to be vaccinated is on Thursday. 

Rabies vaccination site

Vaccination Point 2: Thursday, 28 October 
C/O Abattoir Street and Sandown Road, Abattoir Sports Grounds, Behind South End store, Strand.

AWS said the increase of canine rabies cases in the Cape Metro is concerning.

“The Cape has been rabies-free for 27 years, now we are sitting with a fourth incident, which is quite alarming,” AWS spokesperson Alan Perrins told News24.

According to AWS, since January it has already vaccinated more than 3,466 animals against rabies.

“Our frontline staff members have been vaccinated against the virus, so we are pleading with pet owners to not take this virus lightly as there is no cure for rabies,” Perrins said. 

A hospital staff member at the Cottage Vet Clinic in Gordon’s Bay was bitten this month by a sick pet, which had been brought into the clinic.

Morné de Wet, from the clinic, previously told News24 the patient was brought into the clinic for an examination and, upon checking the dog, one of the veterinarians was bitten.

The spokesperson for the clinic, Toni Younghusband, said the veterinarian has since recovered and is back at work.

“All our clinic staff have been vaccinated against the rabid virus,” Younghusband said. 

Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer encouraged pet owners to get their pets vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Rabies is preventable. Members of the public are encouraged to ensure that their pets’ rabies vaccinations are up to date. Animal health is inextricably linked to public health. So, getting your pet vaccinated is the responsible thing to do,” said Meyer.

The department said it plans on vaccinating 70,000 pets in the province for the 2021/2022 financial year.

“The law requires dogs and cats to be vaccinated against rabies. Do so twice within the first year and, after that, at least every three years,” the department added.

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