NICD WARNS OF RABIES INFECTIONS AS DOG OWNERS DEFER VACCINATIONS DUE TO COVID-19
Source: Times Live (Extract)
Posted: March 1 2021
Fear of contracting Covid-19 has been associated with a drop in childhood immunisation in the past, but according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) the pandemic may also have resulted in neglect of pet vaccinations too.
“The Covid-19 epidemic in SA has affected the control and prevention of rabies. As expected, dog owners and communities were less involved in the vaccination of their pets. Vaccination of dogs (and cats) remains the single most important intervention in the control and prevention of rabies,” said the NICD.
“As Covid-19 has modified care-seeking behaviour and access to health services, access to rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) may also have been affected,” the institute noted.
The majority of cases of human rabies are linked to dog bites, and vaccinating against it is the most important intervention in the control of the disease.
“Since there is no treatment for clinical rabies disease, rabies PEP is the only approach to the prevention of rabies infection once exposure has occurred,” the NICD said.
The primary source of rabies in Africa is dogs.
In SA rabies has mostly been reported from the provinces along the east coast, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, where there have been repeated outbreaks of rabies in dogs. A total of 144 rabid dogs were reported in KwaZulu-Natal in 2020. About 93 animals that died of rabies in October last year were from the Eastern Cape.
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