Cape Town - The Animal Welfare Society of South Africa(AWSSA) has reiterated their call for pet owners to be extremely careful as the fourth confirmed case of rabies was detected in Cape Town yesterday.
This was after a stray, which was found at Strand Beach on October 14, tested positive for the disease. Now AWSSA has raised its alert level from amber to red.
Western Cape Department of Agriculture state veterinarian Lesley van Helden said: “The dog initially presented to a private vet clinic with wounds and a normal habitus, and developed ataxia and a sudden change in behaviour with aggression several days later. It was euthanised, and positive lab results were received for rabies.”
AWSSA spokesperson Allan Perrins said the law prescribed that all dog and cat owners must vaccinate their pets against rabies.
“In our opinion, the law is not being adequately enforced. We have noticed a complacency amongst pet owners to ensure that their pets vaccinations are kept up to date.
“We suspect that there is a lot of unregulated interprovincial movement of animals, especially from areas where there is a high prevalence of rabies. The Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are hot spots for the circulation of rabies. The statutory authorities responsible for enforcing the law appear to be chasing their tails and need to be a lot more proactive,” he said.
A medical scientist from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Jacqueline Weyer, said rabies is a serious and fatal disease in animals and humans but can be prevented.
“Vaccinate dogs and cats. This is the most important intervention for rabies as it serves to protect these animals but also the humans that may come into contact with them. This can be done through private veterinarians or community-based vaccination outreach programs (seek out the opportunities available in your community).
“When possibly exposed to rabid animals, wash wounds with soap and water and visit a health care facility urgently. You will be assessed for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, a life-saving preventative intervention for rabies. We can prevent the infection if an exposure has occurred, but once the disease develops, it cannot be treated,” she said.