Durban - Salt Rock resident Michelle Phillips never thought she would encounter a rabid dog, let alone be bitten by one.
Now undergoing treatment for rabies, Phillips has spoken about her encounter with a rabid dog in her driveway last Thursday and authorities are still searching for other possible bite victims.
Such victims need to seek medical attention urgently.
Phillips described the incident, saying she saw a dog running in her driveway.
“I was with my dogs in the courtyard when I heard a bark. When I looked up, I saw this dog which looked like a young Alsatian. My first thought was that it had escaped from the vet and had run through the hotel and the caravan park. My little dog went under the car and the stray dog went after it. I tried to pull it (the stray dog) out by tugging on its leg when it turned around and bit me,” she said, adding that the animal looked thin but otherwise fairly healthy.
“It was not foaming at the mouth, it looked normal. I would have just wiped the bite and put on a plaster, but my daughter insisted that we go for medical attention.”
Her daughter took her to hospital where she started rabies treatment immediately.
“It was just a little cut and my dogs have had their rabies injections, but I have learned my lesson,” said Phillips, who still has two weeks of treatment left.
In the meanwhile, the dog was caught running along Ocean Drive between Salt Rock and Ballito and taken to local vet, Dr Jeremy Lamb.
Lamb confirmed on Wednesday that a rabies test on the dog had been confirmed as positive on Monday. The dog had to be euthanised.
A video of the dog has been posted on The Independent on Saturday website and anyone who may have been bitten or had a pet bitten can check the video for identification purposes.
“The dog did have bite marks on him which indicates it came into contact with other dogs and it came down Ocean Drive, so we are not sure who has been exposed.
“This has spread from Eshowe towards Durban and reports indicate there have been six cases this week, which is definitely an outbreak, and these are just the ones that are being found,” said Lamb, adding that anyone bitten by a dog needs to seek medical attention immediately.
Lamb also said there had been a recent trend on social media which had created doubt over the need to have rabies vaccinations, similar to some beliefs around measles vaccinations.
“It’s unfortunate that people have not been vaccinating. It has to be done every year without fail. It is an important vaccination and, legally, rabies is a controlled disease,” said Lamb.
Last Wednesday the Rabies Awareness Body in Eshowe also reported a dog running around the streets, which bit a number of people and other dogs. Rabies Awareness reported there were “five possible bite victims”.
KZN Agricultural has rolled out an intensive anti-rabies drive, saying that efforts had been extended to include Ballito this week.
Last night state veterinarian Temba Sikhakhane said four cases had been reported this week, but these still needed to be verified.
At the beginning of the month, a 2-year-old from just outside Tongaat died after contracting rabies. Cases had also been reported in Ntumeni and Ndwendwe.
On Friday, Durban & Coast SPCA spokesperson Lindsey Concer said they had had four confirmed cases in the past month.
“All four cases have been from Inanda. We have seen an increase in rabies cases since last month.
“Previous to this, these cases were hardly heard of. Rabies has an incubation period of a few days to more than three months.
“During the incubation phase an animal will show no signs and will appear completely healthy,” said Concer.
She warned that the public should not handle strays, but rather contact their local SPCA for assistance
“Your pets should be vaccinated for rabies at 3 months old, with a follow-up at 4 months and annually thereafter.
“If an animal is already incubating the rabies disease, a vaccination will not prevent rabies, but will prolong the incubation period by one month,” added Concer, stressing the need to take any sick animal to a vet immediately.
Kloof and Highway SPCA’s Brigitte Ferguson said that while they had had no reported cases, they were on the alert, adding that there had been “an increase in reported cases in other areas”.
Rabies is spread through the saliva of the infected animal, normally through bites, but it can also be spread through a lick if it makes contact with broken skin.