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People bitten by dogs urged not to delay medical care, warns eThekwini Municipality as city’s rabies cases spike

An 11- week-old pup named Sonto visited a pet health mobile service in Dobsonville, Soweto to get vaccinated against rabies. File Picture: Timothy Bernard.

An 11- week-old pup named Sonto visited a pet health mobile service in Dobsonville, Soweto to get vaccinated against rabies. File Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Published Nov 29, 2021


DURBAN - eThekwini Municipality has warned about a spike in rabies cases in Durban.

In a statement issued today, the city said the public was urged to be aware of an increase in cases and to stay away from animals that had not been vaccinated against rabies.

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Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said seven human rabies cases had been confirmed since January.

He said two cases had been reported between November 21 and 25.

“Pet owners are urged to get their animals vaccinated to curb the spread of rabies,” Mayisela said.

He said rabies was prevalent in the city. The south sub-district was affected the most, followed by the west sub-district and the north sub-district.

“Recently, most of the positive rabid animals were from the Adams, Nsimbini, Umbumbulu, Ezingonyameni, Clare Estate, KwaDabeka, St Wendolins and Inanda areas,” Mayisela said.

He added that although many species might be affected by rabies, domestic dogs were the most common source of the virus, with more than 99 percent of human deaths caused by dog-mediated rabies.

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“People bitten by dogs are urged not to delay medical care as rabies in humans is often fatal but can be treated if medical attention is sought early,” Mayisela said.

He said health and awareness campaigns aimed at improving rabies knowledge in the community had been conducted in most of the affected areas.

The Mercury reported that a report released by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) noted six human rabies cases during October and November, which brought the total number of confirmed human rabies cases to 17 for the year.

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The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development said the public should not approach or pick up stray dogs or cats in high-risk rabies areas, including in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape, because this could increase the spread of rabies.

Senior communications manager for the NICD, Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said that of the six confirmed laboratory cases, four were confirmed in the Eastern Cape and one each in KZN and Limpopo.

He added that the Eastern Cape, KZN and Limpopo had reported the most number of human rabies cases since 2016.

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“Although cases are reported annually in South Africa, the occurrence of cases in these provinces has increased compared to previous years.

“This compares to eight laboratory-confirmed cases for 2020, 10 for 2019, 16 for 2018, six for 2017, and one for 2016. During these years, cases were also mostly reported from the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.”

Jimoh said the increase in the number of human cases was related to outbreaks of rabies in domestic dogs in the affected provinces.

She added that vaccination of domestic dogs and cats remained the only way to control rabies.