The North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will be undertaking a mass rabies vaccination rollout from 1 September 2022 targeting pets to prevent new cases of rabies in the province.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “Zero by 30: Our catalytic response”. It is part of the global goal of zero human dog-mediated rabies deaths by 2030, worldwide. Although rabies is 100% preventable, it is estimated that at least 59 000 people die annually from rabies. That is one person every nine minutes of every day, 40% of whom are children living in Africa and Asia. The Department is calling on all pet owners across the province to take precaution and take their pets to the nearest state veterinary clinics for rabies vaccination. This disease is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system of the affected animal and human being resulting in death. The virus enters the body from saliva of infected animals through a bite wound or infected saliva getting direct access to mucous membranes of victim animals or human beings.

The exposure may include bites, but it is important to note that small nicks that break the skin or even licks of the eyes, nose and mouth are regarded as exposure.

Clinical signs that are expected in a positive rabies case are signs related to the dysfunctional nervous system. They are classified either as “dumb form” or “aggressive form”. In the dumb form, these animals show signs of lethargy and progress to facial paralysis. In the aggressive form they show signs of extreme aggression and as they get paralysed in the face, they tend to produce a lot of infective saliva. Some animals may simply show hindquarter paralysis.

Experts say it is important for communities to note that all domestic animals and human beings are susceptible to Rabies and that human beings are extremely susceptible to the disease.

Community members are further advised to report any suspicious human symptoms of rabies to any health facility in the province.

In Madibeng, pet owners can have their pets vaccinated for free against this deadly disease at the Madibeng state veterinarian. Contact 012 709 1108.

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