A rabies vaccination campaign has been launched in parts of the West Rand after some animals were found to be infected with the virus. File Picture: Matthews Baloyi.
A rabies vaccination campaign has been launched in parts of the West Rand after some animals were found to be infected with the virus. File Picture: Matthews Baloyi.

Vaccine roll-out on West Rand after rabies outbreak

By Botho Molosankwe Time of article published Jul 30, 2021

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Johannesburg - The National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD) has confirmed a rabies outbreak on the West Rand.

Two cases of rabies were confirmed in a jackal from the Cradle of Humankind area.

Three jackals in the same area were also suspected of having rabies. However, that was not confirmed.

Since then, a campaign to vaccinate dogs in the affected and surrounding areas has been launched.

NICD senior communications manager Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said rabies was confirmed in a honey badger in the same area during the week of July 25.

Three human exposures to the honey badger were also reported.

“It is reported that all three cases have received rabies post-exposure prophylaxis and wound care to prevent rabies infection.

“Rabies is controllable and preventable. The disease is effectively controlled in domestic dogs, through rabies vaccination. The public is urged to ensure that their dogs are fully vaccinated against rabies. Dogs that are not fully vaccinated for rabies are susceptible to infection. Campaigns in response to the above-mentioned cases are ongoing in the affected area of Mogale City.”

Jimoh said that if a person was exposed to rabies, through bites or scratches inflicted by a suspected rabid animal, all wounds must be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Also crucial, she said, was that rabies post-exposure prophylaxis was sought immediately at a health-care facility.

“Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is considered a live-saving emergency intervention following possible rabies virus exposures. Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis entails thorough cleaning of the wound followed by rabies vaccination and rabies immunoglobulin therapy. More details on rabies post-exposure prophylaxis are available from the NICD website.”

Jimoh said rabies was a fatal infection that had been an endemic disease in South Africa for many years.

She said it was reported in various parts of the country among various animal species.

“Known, ongoing cycles of rabies exist in domestic dogs, black-backed jackal, mongoose species and bat-eared fox in certain locations of the country. Spillover to other wildlife and domestic species do occur, sometimes in locations where the disease is not often reported.

“The number of cases of rabies in dogs fluctuate, mostly due to the level of vaccination of the dogs in a given area. Human rabies cases are most often associated with exposures to rabid domestic dogs. In Gauteng, rabies is reported infrequently in mongoose and jackal, and more often on the rural outskirts of the province.”

Jimoh said that if an animal was suspected to be rabid (including animals presenting with unusual behaviour, hyper-salivation, and signs of paralysis), a vet must be contacted.

“Do not approach or attempt to handle animals that are not known to you. The public should refrain from engaging in direct interactions with wildlife. Often, rabid wildlife may appear tame and it may be tempting to feed or pet such animals.”

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