Durban — A human rabies case in a 10-year-old girl in the Eastern Cape brought the number of human rabies cases recorded in South Africa to 10.
This is according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)
In its November communiqué, the NICD said that a human rabies case was confirmed in the Eastern Cape in November 2023. The case involved a 10-year-old girl from Rhayi, Qonce, Buffalo City Metro Municipality.
“There was no reported history of an animal bite, but Buffalo City has been affected by an ongoing dog rabies epizootic.
“The clinical diagnosis was confirmed through fluorescent antibody testing performed on a post-mortem brain sample,” the NICD said.
“At the time of this report, South Africa has recorded 10 cases of human rabies in 2023 from the following provinces: KwaZulu-Natal (5), Eastern Cape (4) and Limpopo (1).”
The NICD said that rabies can be controlled and prevented through different approaches. In terms of legislation (The Animal Diseases Act), owners of domestic dogs and cats are required to vaccinate their pets against rabies.
“The schedule requires vaccination between the ages of 3 and 7 months, then 12 months later, and thereafter once every 3 years,” the NICD said.
Several stakeholders are involved in providing access to rabies vaccinations for pets, it said, including public and private entities.
The vaccination of dogs and cats remains the most important approach for the control and prevention of rabies.
“It is also important to educate the public, especially children, on how to behave around dogs and to prevent bite exposures.
“When exposures do happen, victims must seek medical care to be assessed for the need for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
“When given appropriately, PEP is safe and protective against rabies virus infection and prevents virus access into the central nervous system, which would otherwise lead to death,” the NICD said.
Rabies PEP consists of the following steps:
- Extensive cleaning and local wound treatment immediately after exposure.
- A course of effective rabies vaccine, according to South African national and WHO guidelines.
- The administration of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG), if necessary.
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