The World Health Organisation (WHO) says rabies kills more than 55 000 people globally every year, mainly in Asia and Africa. This is despite the disease being vaccine-preventable.
This viral disease is transmitted from animals (dogs in 99 percent of cases) to humans, causing inflammation of the brain.
In order for humans to prevent contracting the disease, it is advisable that they vaccinate dogs and prevent dog bites.
How do you get infected?
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says the virus is transmitted through the saliva of rabid animals.
When the virus reaches the brain, it further replicates, causing physical symptoms.
“About 40 percent of people bitten by suspected rabid animals are children under 15 years of age,” WHO said.
Promptly washing a wound thoroughly with soap and water, after contact with a suspected rabid animal, is crucial and can save lives.
Rabies can affect domestic and wild animals
The WHO said initial symptoms of rabies include fever with pain and unusual or unexplained tingling, pricking or burning sensation at the wound site. As the virus spreads to the central nervous system, progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops.
How to prevent rabies
“Dog vaccination reduces deaths attributable to rabies and the need for post-exposure prophylaxis as a part of dog bite patient care. Every year, more than 29 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination. This is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually,” the organisation said.
Recently, the North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development led a rabies campaign in Ottosdal that offered free rabies vaccinations for pets there and in surrounding communities.
“Since the beginning of 2019, our province has reported at least 18 cases of rabies,” the department said.
North West Deputy Director for Animal Health Dr Simon Mosenogi said that it is important to vaccinate pets, especially cats and dogs, annually to prevent rabies.
He said this year’s campaign has reached 1 305 dogs and 29 cats in the province.
Citizens are advised to report any suspicious symptoms of rabies to any local state veterinary offices and health facilities in the country.