WC pet owners encouraged to be on lookout for rabies

Pet owners in the Western Cape have been encouraged to be vigilant and take their pets to their private veterinarian or animal welfare organisation, to make sure their rabies vaccinations are up to date.

The call follows confirmed laboratory results received by the provincial Agriculture and Veterinary Services on Monday, which confirmed rabies in two dogs at Khayelitsha, in the City of Cape Town.

Western Cape MEC of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, said investigations are currently underway to determine the source of the outbreak.

Meyer said officials are vaccinating pets in Khayelitsha and affected areas this week in response to the cases.

“Our Animal Health Technicians began vaccinating dogs and cats in the area yesterday [Monday]. We are working closely with the welfare organisations and medical doctors to check on contacts and any people who may have been bitten and need treatment.

“If you suspect that you have had contact with a rabid animal, getting preventative treatment as soon as possible saves your life. Wash any bite or scratch wound thoroughly with soap and water, and then go immediately to your doctor or clinic to get rabies vaccinations. The sooner you receive treatment, the better you will be protected against rabies,” Meyer said.

Rabies is a viral disease affecting animals and people. It is transmitted by saliva or other body fluids, and a dog or person can be infected by being bitten, scratched or licked by a rabid animal.

Western Cape Veterinary Service Head, Dr Gininda Msiza warned that dogs with rabies often show a behaviour change and become suddenly aggressive or unusually tame for no reason.

However, Msiza said rabies is very easy to prevent by vaccinating dogs and cats.

“Dogs with rabies struggle to swallow and often walk around with their mouths open, drooling or making choking sounds as if they have something stuck in their throat. If you suspect a dog has rabies, do not touch it and contact your nearest private or state veterinarian immediately,” Msiza said.

Source: South African Government News Agency