Ninety-seven cases of rabies in cats and dogs have been reported in KwaZulu-Natal since the beginning of the year, the provincial rabies project said on Monday.
“The most affected areas are Ugu district, Port Shepstone, uThungulu, Bergville, and Winterton,” rabies project manager Kevin le Roux said.
Underberg farmer and top canoeist Graeme Anderson, who was suspected to have contracted rabies after taking in a stray dog, was fighting for his life in hospital, the Natal Witness newspaper reported on Monday.
Dr Grant Lindsay told the paper Anderson picked up the dog and took it home five to six weeks ago. He was admitted to hospital on Wednesday and placed in the intensive care unit on Friday.
Lindsay was quoted as saying that there was a “high possibility” that Anderson had rabies, even though there had not been a definite diagnosis.
Department of agriculture spokesman Jeffrey Zikhali said rabies was a concern in the province.
“It is a difficult situation to control and it's also difficult to track animals that have not been vaccinated,” he said.
The department had sent vets to affected areas and was monitoring the situation.
“We are also encouraging communities to vaccinate their animals.”
Le Roux advised people not to touch stray animals.
“If there is any exposure from an animal wound you must seek medical advice immediately,” he said.
Le Roux said in 2011 two people died from rabies in KwaZulu-Natal. People can contract rabies through the saliva of an infected animal, or through a cut or graze. – Sapa