KZN Health Department raises awareness on the deadly rabies virus

Dr Terrence Mncwango of St Mary’s Hospital.

Dr Terrence Mncwango of St Mary’s Hospital.

Published Sep 19, 2022


Durban – The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has urged people with and without pets to safeguard themselves from the rabies virus and seek immediate medical attention after a bite or suspected bite.

Dr Terrence Mncwango, of St Mary’s Hospital, says in KZN people are most commonly infected by dogs and cats that carry the rabies virus, but wild animals can also carry the virus.

“People can be infected with rabies if they are bitten by an animal with the virus, however the virus can be transmitted just from being in contact with the saliva of an infected animal.”

Mncwango said animals most likely to spread rabies included dogs and bats – “90% of our cases are from dog transmissions”.

“People that work in the mines also have a high risk of contacting the rabies virus.”

He said symptoms included fever, headache, excess salivation, muscle spasms, paralysis and mental confusion.

“The virus attacks the brain or central nervous system and causes brain inflammation. Our mission as the Department of Health is for people to not contract the virus, because once they develop signs and symptoms it's nearly always fatal.”