Take precautions now – there is no treatment
Rabies used to be a disease that seemed quite ‘far away’ to most South Africans. But in recent years the number of confirmed cases in both animals and people has risen severely, and we need to be more aware, more alert and more careful!
Once this virus takes root in an animal or person’s body, it is almost always fatal. No effective treatment exists, and for that reason alone it is worth taking all the necessary precautions!
The virus can be carried by a number of different animal species: dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, mongooses, bat-eared foxes and jackals are a few. However, any mammal can become infected and spread the disease.
One of the most common signs in animals is a change in behaviour – wild animals can appear tame and domestic animals can become more aggressive and wild, but this is not always the case. The virus attacks the nervous system and eventually leads to paralysis and death. People can also become infected by coming into contact with the infected animal’s saliva through cuts or mucous membranes, or when working with an infected carcass, if exposed to the saliva or brain and spinal fluids of the animal.
As rabies is a state-controlled disease, any suspect animals or people bitten by said animals need to be reported to the local state vet as soon as possible. The state vet will then ensure the animal is humanely euthanised if there is no proof of vaccine status for that animal, and have him sent away for testing to confirm if rabies is present or not.
So yes, rabies is that scary! Yet as terrifying and deadly as this horrible virus can be, it is luckily also 100% preventable! The best way to avoid it is to educate yourself. South African law requires all domestic dogs and cats should be vaccinated by a vet on an annual basis to offer them protection against rabies. The resident vet at Family Pet Centre will gladly assist with a titre level test to see if the vaccine is necessary or not.
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