South Africa officials warns of rabies in high risk areas


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South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development issued a rabies warning this week to residents and holiday travelers in high-risk areas of the country.

Rabies is particularly prevalent in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, as well as the borders between the Free State Province and Lesotho. Coastal areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape pose a particularly high risk of rabies – the public is advised not to approach, touch or pick up stray dogs and cats from these areas for any purpose whatsoever.

By capturing and channeling stray animals, you can help spread rabies to other regions and counties and endanger your life and the life of your family. People are encouraged to report stray animals to local welfare authorities and to support these organizations in caring for such animals. Remember that rabies can occur anywhere in South Africa, so avoid handling animals you don’t know.

Rabies is a very serious, often zoonotic and fatal disease, which means that it can be transmitted from infected animals to humans. Any mammal can contract rabies, but the greatest threat to human health is infected dogs and cats. The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal when it bites, scratches, or licks a person. Animals affected by rabies may display changes in behaviour, but these vary widely from unprovoked attacks to becoming very friendly or only appearing sleepy. They may drool a lot, may not be able to swallow, talk constantly (barking, whining, howling, etc.), exhibit strange behavior, sometimes become aggressive, or, on the contrary, may only appear weak and unresponsive.

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In animals and humans, the disease affects the brain and once clinical signs appear, there is no curative treatment, and it is 100% fatal. Therefore, if you suspect you have been exposed to an animal that may have rabies, it is of the utmost importance to wash the wound thoroughly with soap under running water and immediately seek preventive treatment at your nearest healthcare facility. Doing so could save your life!

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