As the incidence of Rabies in Gauteng appears to be on the increase, our awareness of this deadly disease should increase. We should take the risk seriously.

Figure 1 illustrates the reported cases between 1993 and 2005. Much has changed since and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Department of Health, the South African Veterinary Association, and the NSPCA have all embarked on awareness and vaccination campaigns in response to various outbreaks. The majority of infections in Gauteng are reported in the far southern parts of the province. While many are in rural and semi-rural areas, cases have also been recorded in urban areas.
Figure 1: Rabies Vectors 1993 - 2005

The the common vectors of the disease in various regions in South Africa are clearly visible and vary from region to region. The major vector responsible for Rabies infections in Gauteng is the Yellow Mongoose, followed by domestic dogs. People living in peri-urban areas, such as Manderston's neighbourhood, where mongoose are still prolific, are at particular risk. In addition, areas with highly mobile populations, such as squatter communities, have elevated risk due to potentially infected animals travelling to and from outlying areas.

The disease is mostly transferred in the saliva of an infected animal. The most common mode of transmission is a bite, but nicks and scratches may be enough for the virus to enter the body. The majority of human victims ayellowmo 33a88re children. The incubation period is between 2 and 10 weeks. The disease is generally transmitted by animals that already show signs of illness, but apparently healthy animals have been shown to shed the virus in laboratory experiments. Once signs of disease are present, there is no cure.

The following are the most important preventive measures:
  • Vaccinate all domestic pets against Rabies twice in the first year and then every three years.
  • Never approach wildlife. Wild animals have an innate fear of humans. If they do not display this fear, they should be treated with extreme caution. Incidents involving such animals should be reported to the nearest vet or SPCA.
  • Never approach strange dogs, particularly if they appear to be sick or in poor condition. Rather report the dog to the nearest SPCA or other animal welfare organisation.
  • Children should be instructed never to approach strange animals.
  • If bitten, the victim should wash the wound immediately with water and a disinfectant or soap. There after seek medical treatment immediately.
  • All bites should be reported to the state veterinarian or SAPS, who will take steps to find the animal and destroy it if necessary, making sure it is tested for rabies.
Here are links to some informative documents.
Dogtown South Africa
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