Fear over rabies outbreak

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The department of agriculture in Mpumalanga has announced an outbreak of rabies in the Ntsikazi area.

Authorities say the severe viral disease was noticed during a routine inspection by the province's veterinary services.

Rabies is an often fatal viral disease that affects the central nervous systems of most warm-blooded animals and is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal.

It causes convulsions, inability to move and untypical behaviour.

Departmental spokesman David Tshabalala said: "It is confirmed that the Ntsikazi area has been diagnosed with cases of rabies, which mainly infects pets, livestock and wild animals.

"We began the vaccinations of dogs and cats in April and about 7000 dogs and cats have already been vaccinated."

He called on the people of Ntsikazi, Lundanda, Khombula and Bhuga to report cases of suspected rabies and to ensure their dogs and cats are vaccinated.

"The most common signs that a rabid animal will show are behavioral changes such as wild animals becoming too tame," Tshabalala said.

"On the other hand domestic animals become aggressive and show symptoms such as incoordination, salivation and abnormal vocalisation," he said.

"All warm-blooded animals can contract and transmit rabies. Vaccinations for cats and dogs are available free of charge."

The public can report any suspicious animal rabies cases to State Vet Nelspruit at 013-753-3247 or 013-752-4568.