Giyani: One person has died of rabies in Limpopo this week, bringing the total number of rabies-related deaths to four in the last 10 months.
Provincial Health spokesperson Adele van der Linde said the recent death was reported in Malamulele near Giyani.
“The department once again issues a warning to residents of Limpopo, but especially in the Vhembe and Mopani districts, to immediately seek help when bitten or scratched by a domestic or wild animal that is suspected of being rabid,” said Van der Linde.
She said the average incidence of human rabies in Limpopo was three deaths per financial year, mostly in the Vhembe district.
Van der Linde said a series of training sessions were held at all health institutions in Vhembe last year to focus on case management and the prevention of human rabies.
Annual road shows were also held in Vhembe and Mopani district in September last year, which was World Rabies Month.
“Our main challenge remains the issue of ignorance. People do not seek medical attention soon enough,” Van der Linde said.
“People are bitten or scratched by their own animals but don’t see the need to go to a health facility for treatment.”
She said rabies was a re-emerging disease in South Africa, particularly in densely populated rural areas, but that infected people can survive if they are treated in time.
“If a person comes into contact with a rabid animal, whether it be a bite or a scratch, they should seek immediate medical attention. There is an effective, safe vaccine against rabies,” she said.
She stressed that domestic pets must be vaccinated against rabies regularly.
The Department of Agriculture is currently vaccinating pets free of charge in communities across the province.
“Dogs and cats should be vaccinated at three months of age, with a booster at nine months, and then every three years afterwards. In high risk areas, annual revaccination is recommended,” she said.
She said stray animals, animals that are behaving strangely or that appear sick must be avoided.
Once the rabies virus has entered the body, it goes to the brain where the virus multiplies, causing brain dysfunction and ultimately death.
The disease is spread from animal to animal, and occasionally from animals to humans.