Source: IOL (Extract)
Posted: March 7, 2023

Durban — The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has warned the public that there is a rabies outbreak in the eThekwini Metro.

On Monday, the department said that it has noted with concern the rabies cases that have been reported around eThekwini metro areas.

The department confirmed growing trends in dogs testing positive for rabies around Durban, particularly the western parts areas. Immediate plans such as mass vaccination drives have been put in place to fight the scourge.

Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Super Zuma called on residents to take their dogs and cats to be vaccinated.

“We are making a clarion call to all dog and cat owners to make their way to our veterinary offices to vaccinate their dogs and cats to ensure suppression of rabies,” Zuma said.

He said that apart from the vaccination that is already taking place at the department’s local offices, vaccination campaigns would be intensified through community visits by our veterinary services personnel to the most affected areas.

Zuma said that through the department’s preliminary investigation, they can confirm several positive cases have been reported in areas such as Pinetown, Mpumalanga Township to Cato Ridge. Over 26 cases were recorded in January in eThekwini Metro alone – which called for urgent intervention by the department. Notably, other western areas which include Kloof, Hillcrest, Waterfall and Molweni have also been classified as a hot spot by the department. Accordingly, they are prioritised for mass vaccination.

He added that residents are urged to contact their nearest local offices for any enquiries.

Over the weekend, sister publication, Independent on Saturday, reported that Kloof and Highway SPCA inspector and marketing manager Brigitte Ferguson has sounded the alarm over a drastic increase in rabies cases.

“In the last three months (December, January and February) we have had 27 dogs and one cat test positive for rabies,” she said.

She said last year, the Kloof and Highway SPCA had 88 positive rabies results and only reached 30 cases by August.

She also warned there could be more that had not been reported or captured.

Meanwhile, in the February 2023 issue of the Communicable Diseases Communiqué, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), said that for 2023 to date, there have been no laboratory-confirmed cases of human rabies reported in South Africa.

“In 2022, there were a total of 19 laboratory-confirmed and probable cases reported, four fewer than the previous year. The cases were reported from the following provinces: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo,” the NICD said.

“Nearly all human rabies cases in South Africa have been linked to exposures to rabid domestic dogs. The most important measure for preventing human rabies is to control the infection in dogs. Dogs (and cats) can be vaccinated against rabies.”

The NICD added that following exposures to possibly rabid dogs or other animals, human rabies infections can be prevented through prompt initiation of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. This includes thorough wound washing with soap and water, administration of a series of rabies vaccines and rabies immunoglobulin therapy where appropriate.