The Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s veterinary services have held a rabies vaccination campaign in the Mossel Bay area over the past ten days. The campaign focused on disadvantaged communities where animals are not necessarily taken to private veterinary clinics for preventive treatment.
During these campaigns, the government officials drive through the areas and vaccinate healthy dogs and cats from three months of age. It is a free service and pet owners voluntarily bring their animals to be vaccinated.
“Rabies is a serious viral disease that not only affects animals, but can also be spread to humans. This disease is preventable with vaccination,” says Dr. Leana Janse van Rensburg, state veterinarian on George.
Rabies affects the brain and causes confusion, epileptic seizures, muscle paralysis and death in 100% of cases. Apart from pets, it can also affect wild animals such as bats, foxes and mice dogs, as well as livestock. An infected animal can infect a human or other animal species by biting, licking or scratching it.
Janse van Rensburg says that there has been an upsurge in outbreaks of rabies in the Eastern Cape since last year and there is a fear that it could spread. Last year, the World Organization for Animal Health, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, launched a global campaign to end human deaths due to rabies by 2030.
“To prevent the spread of rabies in dogs in the Western Cape, we aim to achieve vaccination of at least 70% of the population,” she says.
Dr. Commenting on the campaign, Ivan Meyer, Western Cape MEC for agriculture, said: “The safety of our communities is a priority for the Western Cape government. The vaccination of pets such as dogs and cats aims to protect animals and people from contamination by the disease.
“Last year, Western Cape veterinary services vaccinated 139 580 cats and dogs against rabies. Healthy animals and safe communities will lead to improved food security and safety,” he says.
Meyer encouraged pet owners to learn more about rabies here.