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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


MEC urges residents to take precautions against rabies outbreak in KZN

In the Thafeni area of Eshowe, under the uMlalazi Municipality, a five-year-old child recently died of rabies.


KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Super Zuma has urged the province’s residents to take precautions following the outbreak of rabies in several parts of KZN.

In the Thafeni area of Eshowe, under the uMlalazi Municipality, a five-year-old child recently died of rabies.

ALSO READ | Alarming increase in rabies cases

Zuma, who visited the area as part of the department’s rabies awareness campaign, warned the community that rabies is deadly if left untreated.

[Rabies is] easy to contain, particularly if people follow the guidelines.
For example, it’s important — following a dog bite — for people to wash the wound. It’s also important for those with dog bite wounds to receive medical treatment at their nearest health facility.
Rabies is passed to humans by bites from unvaccinated dogs and cats.
If left untreated, rabies could infect the central nervous system and the brain, leading to death.

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While the department has the capacity to control the spread of rabies through the mass vaccination of dogs and cats, Zuma said there were instances where the department had not been able to access certain parts of the province.

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Department employees, Zuma said, are scared to go to certain areas given the spike in hijackings of government vehicles and the mugging of employees.

That worries us as the government because the work of vaccinating against rabies in those areas is hampered, leading to the increase in dogs and cats infected with rabies.
It’s unacceptable that people’s lives end up being lost just because of crime.
Animal owners, Zuma said, should visit their nearest veterinary centres to ensure that their dogs and cats are regularly vaccinated.

Other areas which the department has identified as rabies hotspots include the eThekwini Metro. According to the department, over 26 cases were recorded in January in the eThekwini Metro alone.
The department is focusing on Kloof, Hillcrest, Waterfall and Molweni outside Pinetown and will intensify its vaccination campaign, Zuma said.

ALSO READ | Rabies cases on the rise in KwaZulu-Natal

Residents have been advised to heed the following safety precautions:
• Do not allow strange animals, in particular dogs and cats, to roam their neighbourhoods.
• Report strange dogs and cats to the department’s nearest local offices or to the SPCA for collection.
• Children must be monitored so as not to play with these animals unless they have been recently vaccinated for rabies.
The department added that in cases where someone has been bitten by a dog or cat, they must immediately approach a clinic or hospital in less than 24 hours for rabies treatment.
• clive.ndou@witness.co.za

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