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Protect your children from rabies
06 September 2018

Alarming new rabies statistics show that the number of cases in humans has risen dramatically – from two in 2016 to an estimated 14 for the first half of 2018 – and that domestic dog bites are chiefly to blame.

“It is a terrible, fatal yet entirely preventable disease and we have the opportunity to do something about it,” said Country Animal Clinic veterinarian Dr Ingrid de Wet.

“This is not a rural disease, nor is it a problem that we can fob off on other provinces. We are seeing more and more cases in wildlife and domestic dogs in the Western Cape, and it is steadily creeping closer to our region.

Rabies kills almost 59 000 people every year worldwide – or one person every nine minutes, 40% of whom are children living in Asia and Africa. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for transmission of the virus to humans, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Educate your children about rabies,” De Wet says. “Teach them not to approach animals they don’t know. Have your pets vaccinated, and donate to welfare organisations that do rabies vaccination campaigns; get involved.”

Rabies is 100% vaccine-preventable, yet while South Africa has an estimated dog population of 9 million and about 2 million cats, the annual vaccination coverage is reported to never exceed 1,5 million pets.

“Concerted vaccination campaigns not only prevent the spread of this killer disease, they also raise awareness of how the disease is spread,” says veterinarian Dr Hilldidge Bee. “It is time we stopped thinking about rabies as a ‘farm’ disease, and focused on urban populations. Vaccinating as many dogs as possible in urban and suburban environments will go a long way to halting the spread of the disease.”

Beer’s EberVet Community Veterinary Care (CVC) is donating one free rabies vaccination to an impoverished pet for every dog or cat vaccinated against the disease at Country Animal Clinic and at EberVet Pet Clinic in Strand. “By protecting your dog or cat, you’re helping to protect a dog or cat from an impoverished family. We’ll be taking those free vaccines to a free pet sterilisation clinic we’re holding on Wednesday 12 September,” she said.

The WHO estimates that South Africa should be vaccinating more than 2,5 million pets per year.

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