Surge in rabies cases in South Durban
Durban - Rabies has once again struck in eManzimtoti, making the town and its surrounds a hot spot for the killer disease.
The local SPCA has seen 10 cases of rabies since July and nearly 40 this year. Last year the total was only 16. The Durban and Coastal SPCA has reported eight cases since September and the Kloof and Highway branch, four.
Lisa Zank of Seadoone Veterinary Clinic said she had seen three cases since October. The local animal hospital has seen two this month. Along with Nicky Koekemoer of 4 Paws and a Tale Rescue, the three animal welfare institutions called on people to vaccinate their animals.
“We’ve found that, with the recent hard lockdown, people who would usually have vaccinated their animals have put it off, and the surge in local rabies cases now puts pets - and their owners - at risk,” explained Koekemoer.
“In the eManzimtoti area, there have been three confirmed cases the past two weeks, and we know of a rabid dog in the Umkomaas area, so it is absolutely vital that every pet owner takes responsibility and gets their animals vaccinated. There is no cure for rabies; it is fatal.”
Compounding the problem was an influx of dogs to rural areas as people returned home having lost their jobs due to Covid-19, with dogs they normally kept with them in the cities, Koekemoer added.
She said the state veterinary service that provides free vaccinations had not been to the Upper South Coast “in a long time”.
Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development spokesperson Mack Makhatini said 269 910 doses of vaccine had been issued, so all state vet offices had been supplied and were conducting campaigns.
“However, rain is now seriously hampering progress and vaccinations will naturally slow again until February.”
He added that 14 410 of these had been issued to private vets and non-governmental organisations who assist with vaccinations.
Michael Hoole of the Doonside Veterinary Clinic puts the surge down to people either not vaccinating at all, not doing so regularly enough and not seeing the need to vaccinate young dogs.
“Just because an animal is only six months to a year old does not mean they cannot be infected.”
He said many were reluctant to pay for jabs.
Zank stressed that it was a legal requirement for pet owners to vaccinate their animals against rabies.
The Independent on Saturday