Pet owners are being warned to vaccinate their animals against rabies. Picture: File picture
DURBAN - A FIFTH person has died from rabies in the province this year, while Durban has been identified as a hot spot.

Rabies Project Manager KZN at the provincial department of agriculture Keith le Roux yesterday confirmed the death of a 25-year-old South Coast man a month ago.

He said the Durban area had been a hot spot recently with a string of animal cases in Phoenix, Newlands and Inanda.

The provincial total is 24 cases this month, with 38 being reported in May.

Meanwhile, this week the owners of a husky from the Berea-Morningside area took their pet to the Durban & Coastal SPCA requesting it to be euthanised after it had been acting strangely and had not been vaccinated.

“We did send it off for testing but the result for rabies was negative,” said SPCA spokesperson Tanya Fleischer yesterday.

Dog owners in the area, particularly those who walk their pets at Jameson Park, were alerted to the incident through social media and an awareness campaign was initiated with car guards handing out pamphlets. Le Roux said only 20% of rabies cases brought in for examination tested positive, but the Agriculture Department was obliged to put down any animal suspected of having rabies.

“The law is very strong about dealing with suspicious cases and it’s all to do with saving human lives,” he said, likening rabid dogs to “loaded guns lying around”.

Le Roux said there had been six deaths in the former Transkei region of the Eastern Cape. He said KZN’s most recent case had occurred after the victim failed to get immediate treatment and was probably linked to a lack of education about the disease.

Rural areas were always the most vulnerable, he said but efforts to educate and inoculate were at their peak in winter when teams were able to access remote places more easily due to the drier conditions.

The other four deaths in KZN were that of a man outside Vryheid who had been bitten by his dog but did not received treatment; a 13 year old at Nseleni, near Richards Bay, after making contact with a rabid dog; a six year old from Hillcrest who had contact with a cat on the North Coast; and a five year old bitten by a dog on his way back from school in KwaMashu.

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