Podcast: Here’s how to control and prevent rabies

In recent months, certain provinces in Mzansi were affected by outbreaks of rabies. An Afrivet expert gives insight on how to identify rabies and measures the agri community can take to prevent the disease

Vuyokazi Makapela, a director at Afrivet, Zamo Shongwe, Buhle Farmer’s Academy’s, finance and business director, Free State farmer Buchule Jack, Liviwe Finca, the founder of Amafemvula, and Justin Dziruni of Zazo Boergoats. Photo:Supplied/Foodf For Mzansi

Vuyokazi Makapela, a director at Afrivet; Zamo Shongwe, Buhle Farmers Academy’s finance and business director; Free State farmer Buchule Jack; Liviwe Finca, the founder of Amafemvula; and Justin Dziruni of Zazo Boergoats. Photo:Supplied/Food For Mzansi

In recent years South Africa has seen an alarming rate of rabies outbreaks in humans. But while the frightening infection is 100% fatal, it is also 100% preventable.

On this episode of Farmer’s Inside Track, Afrivet director, Vuyokazi Makapela, unpacks all you need to know about rabies. She gives insight on how to identify rabies, preventative measures and she even has a few tips for Mzansi’s agricultural community.

Starting the session, Makapela explains that rabies is a zoonotic viral illness which can spread from animals to humans through biting, licking, scratching, or contamination with saliva from rabid animals.

“Animals that are commonly affected are dogs and cats, any mammal basically. We’ve seen it in lions, canibeja’s, sheep, and baboons,” she says.

Makapela looks into why rabies was thought to be the cause of human deaths in Nelson Mandela Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo. Most cases were found in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, she adds.

There are important do’s and don’ts when it comes to a rabies outbreak.

Makapela advises what protocol you should follow when bitten or scratched by an animal with rabies. “First, you need to wash the wound with soap and running water for about 10 to 15 minutes to flush out the virus and saliva in the wound. You would then need to seek immediate medical assistance.”

Safeguarding communities and animals

Makapela says the vaccination of dogs remain a crucial preventive step for controlling rabies.

Farm owners must also ensure that their dogs and cats are vaccinated. “Puppies and kittens at three months of age, then a month later, and then every three years after that.”

If pet owners forget to vaccinate their animals every three months, in areas like the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal where large outbreaks occur, animals must be vaccinated every year.

In the podcast, Makapela discusses:

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