The theme for this year’s World Rabies Day, taking place on September 28, focuses on vaccination as the foundation of rabies prevention and control efforts – ‘Rabies: Vaccinate to Eliminate’.
Dog bites cause almost all human rabies cases in South Africa, and globally, vaccinations are the most effective way to reduce the risk of this disease, said Dr Guy Fyvie, Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s Nutritional Advisor.
South Africa’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development holds regular vaccination clinics in key areas that have rabies outbreaks or scares. This is predominantly in the eastern part of the country. However, Dr Fyvie explained that it remains our responsibility to have our dogs and cats vaccinated against the disease.
Dogs and cats should receive their first rabies vaccinations before three months of age. They’ll receive their second vaccination at three months, a third within 12 months, and annually thereafter. In SA it is law that pets are vaccinated against rabies.
“In South Africa, the disease is still very present, particularly in our rural areas where many dogs are not vaccinated against the virus. In addition, rabies is commonly reported among stray or feral dogs and cats,” said Fyvie.