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SASTM Newsflash - Rabies - canine, human exposure Kwa-Zulu Natal


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A KwaZulu-Natal man has been hospitalised with suspected rabies, contracted from his dog, the agriculture and environmental affairs department said on Sunday [23 Jun 2013]. One of his 2 puppies licked a wound on his leg in May [2013], said department spokesman Jeffrey Zikhali. The dog died a few days later after showing symptoms of rabies, and later tested positive for rabies, he said. The other dog was destroyed.


The 45-year-old farmer was admitted to a hospital in Empangeni on Wednesday [19 Jun 2013]. 3 rabies tests were done and 2 of them came back negative. The results of the 3rd test would be available in a week's time.


Despite 600 000 vaccinations last year [2012], 4 people have since died of rabies in KwaZulu-Natal, Zikhali said.


Two dogs that were positively diagnosed with rabies -- and their owner who fears he may have contracted the disease -- have sparked a concerted animal vaccination campaign in Empangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal.


The owner, a 45-year-old farmer, was admitted to hospital and is still undergoing a battery of tests.


The dogs, which had died last month [May 2013], had licked an open wound on the farmer's leg, Jeffrey Zikhali, spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, said.


He said the farmer had not been aware that his dogs had rabies and after finding out that they did, he had been overcome with anxiety and depression and had gone to hospital to get tested.


"So far 3 tests to determine whether he has rabies have been done and

2 of those tests came back negative," Zikhali said. "We are now waiting for the last one which will take about a week before we get results."


Zikhali, who visited the farmer in hospital yesterday [24 Jun 2013], said he looked well, apart from being depressed by the possibility that he may have rabies.


"The positive thing that I saw was that he does not have hydrophobia (fear of water) which is one of the symptoms seen in rabies victims, but we will wait for the results," he said.


Zikhali said the department was worried that the 2 dogs had died of rabies, as it could mean there were others that were also infected.


He said staff were preparing to go to every household in Empangeni to ensure all animals were vaccinated.


"We are once again urging all pet owners to ensure that their pets are vaccinated. "This is very important because a rabies infection is not curable," he said.


Four people died in KwaZulu-Natal last year [2012] after contracting rabies. They included an Underberg farmer and canoeist, who contracted rabies from the saliva of a sick stray dog he took in and kept in his shed. [The 29-year-old man], died in June last year [2012] in the ICU at a Pietermaritzburg hospital.


An 8-year-old of eMaswazini, outside Bergville, also died that month [June 2012], while a [52-year-old woman], of Engonyameni near uMlazi, who failed to seek medical help after being bitten on her right forearm, died in May [2012].


In August [2012], [a 21-year-old], of Tshelimnyama in Mariannhill, died of rabies.


Rabies, which is widespread in KwaZulu-Natal, is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the brain. Its symptoms include tiredness, headache, fever, and pain. This progresses to uncontrolled excitement and a fear of water.


Since the department launched its vaccination campaign last year [2012], more than 600 000 animals had been vaccinated, Zikhali said.


"We will continue to do this, but people must also make use of this vaccination programme because once one is infected with rabies, one will not live longer than 2 weeks," he said.


Communicated by: ProMED-mail



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