The Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute recently confirmed a case of rabies in a horse on a farm between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, the first in the area for 17 years.
Test results, which will indicate whether it is the rabies virus strain that circulates in wild animals or that found in domestic dogs, have not yet been released. It is currently suspected that the horse was bitten by a bat-eared fox or some other rabid carrier.
Western Cape agriculture MEC Cobus Dowry said there is no cause for alarm as it is probably an isolated case. The agriculture department’s veterinary services division has nevertheless already embarked on a vaccination campaign in a 3km zone around the affected farm. It aims to vaccinate all animals that could be at risk as soon as possible.
Owners in the area are also encouraged to ensure that the rabies vaccinations of their dogs and cats are up to date. An intensive investigation is under way to identify the possible carrier species involved. – Glenneis Erasmus