As the world commemorates World Rabies Day on September 28, attention should also be given to deep rural parts of the country.
The World Health Organization says that an estimated 55 000 human deaths occur worldwide per year due to canine rabies.
This accounts for 1 death and 300 exposures every 15 minutes.
Almost all human fatalities occur in developing countries with 56 percent occurring in Asia and 44 percent in Africa.
While there are proactive programmes focusing on the control and vaccination of rabies in most urban areas, questions should be asked on whether the same activities are also being extended to deep rural areas.
Pet owners in these areas should also be informed about the importance to have their pets vaccinated against rabies and to seek medical help immediately if they are bitten by an animal.
There are lots of dogs in deep rural parts of South Africa and Africa in general, and if the goal of eliminating rabies deaths by 2020 is to be kept real, then attention should also be given to the animals in deep rural parts of the country.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development holds regular vaccination clinics in key areas that have rabies outbreaks or scares but in our rural areas many dogs are not vaccinated against the virus.
According to Dr Guy Fyvie, Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s nutritional advisor, In South Africa, the disease is still very present in South Africa.
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases’ (NICD) latest Communicable Diseases Communiqué also confirmed eight South African cases of human rabies in 2019 to date.
These cases were reported in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape,
Rabies is a zoonotic disease which people can get from animals.
It is caused by a virus which affects the brain and causes death. The virus is shed in saliva and is spread by the bite of an infected animal. In South Africa people are usually infected by dogs, but other animals such as cats, mongooses, jackals and other wild animals can also infect people
World Rabies Day is the first and only global day of action and awareness for rabies prevention. It is an opportunity to unite as a community and for individuals, NGOs and governments to connect and share their work.
September 28th 2019 is the 13th World Rabies Day, and this year’s theme focuses on vaccination, the foundation of all rabies control efforts.
The theme, Rabies: Vaccinate to Eliminate, can be used to raise awareness at many levels such as ensuring that dogs are kept vaccinated.