KZN rabies programme reaches 120 000 animals

KwaZulu-Natal’s government animal health authorities vaccinated 84 869 animals against rabies during July.

It’s been estimated that if rabies vaccinations carried out in the private sector are included, the total vaccinated animals is 120 000. A rabies outbreak in KZN during 2012 resulted in a number of human fatalities. Scores of rabid animals have reportedly been put down by government and private vets, or been killed by community members so far this year.

Dr Ariena Shepherd, a vet and committee member of the KZN Red Meat Producers’ Organisation and the KZN Wool Growers’ Association, called for the reinstatement of the annual nationwide rabies vaccination campaigns that were held until recent years. “A follow-up campaign should also be implemented within the next six months because thousands of puppies could be born during this period and they’ll need to be vaccinated in order to keep rabies under control,” said Shepherd.

“I’m also concerned about how easily unvaccinated animals can be transported between provinces and across our national borders.” KZN department of agriculture spokesperson Jeffrey Zikhali said the department was currently training 125 extension services vaccinators, who will significantly bolster the province’s rabies vaccination capacity.

“Disease figures for the province remain stable at present, but in the wake of the five vaccination campaigns during July 2012 we’re expecting significant decreases over the next two months,” said Zikhali. More good news from the department was that a 4-year-old Umlazi boy who contracted rabies after being bitten by two rabid dogs had miraculously survived the usually fatal disease.