Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 12:53 pm

According to a report on eNCA on Tuesday, five children in South Africa have died from an outbreak of rabies in KZN since April…

One of the reasons for the deaths is that the extended lockdown affected the regular immunisation of pets against the disease. Following the outbreak in KwaZulu Natal, the rural development department is strengthening its vaccination drive. According to the eNCA report, the organisation is conducting awareness campaigns and is doing vaccinations for communities in the area.

Rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease, yet every year, rabies causes thousands of deaths around the world.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa notes that around 59 000 people die of rabies annually. “This amounts to a rabies death every 10 minutes..

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the zoonotic, viral disease is spread to humans mostly through domestic dog interaction. It can be transmitted through scratches, bites, or licks on the mucous membranes (lips or eyes).

It can also infect other domestic and wild animals.

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Almost 100% of cases can be prevented if adequate post-exposure treatment is given. The NICD advises that the wound is washed very well with soap and water for at least 10 minutes after exposure. The individual should also receive a rabies vaccination in the arm, and “If there is a scratch with blood or a bite, the addition of concentrated rabies antibodies into the wound is important to immediately ‘neutralize’ the virus.”

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Here are 10 Key Facts from the WHO you need to know about rabies, on how to keep your pets and family safe from the disease:

Key facts about rabies

  1. Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease which occurs in more than 150 countries and territories.
  2. Dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans.
  3. Interrupting transmission is feasible through vaccination of dogs and prevention of dog bites.
  4. Globally rabies causes an estimated cost of US$ 8.6 billion per year
  1. Rabies is present on all continents, except Antarctica, with over 95% of human deaths occurring in the Asia and Africa regions.
  2. Every year, more than 29 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination.
  1. 40% of people bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age.
  2. Immediate, thorough wound washing with soap and water after contact with a suspect rabid animal is crucial and can save lives.
  3. Engagement of multiple sectors and One Health collaboration including community education, awareness programmes and vaccination campaigns are critical.
  4. WHO leads the collective “United Against Rabies” to drive progress towards “Zero human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030”.

Prevent rabies infection by vaccinating your dogs!

“Vaccinating all dogs, including roaming and strays, prevents rabies being passed to humans and stops other dogs becoming infected,” says the WHO.

“A cost-effective rabies elimination programme in Bangladesh, which involves mass dog vaccination, resulted in a 50% decrease in human rabies deaths between 2010 and 2013. Tanzania, the Philippines and Kwazulu Natal have also demonstrated that control of rabies is feasible through mass dog vaccinations.”

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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.