TEARS to host free Rabies Vaccination Drive to mitigate risk to pets

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The WESTERN CAPE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE has issued a media statement today confirming a case of dog rabies in the Southern Peninsula of Cape Town after a pet dog residing in the Capri area contracted the disease. The infected dog, which had exhibited symptoms such as fever and increased aggression, together with three other dogs from the same household, were humanely euthanized.

Rabies is a deadly zoonotic disease - one that can be passed between animals and humans - and can be transmitted to humans via a bite but inoculation is available. If a rabid dog or cat, or other mammal you might suspect has rabies, has bitten you, get to the doctor. The first dose of the vaccine should be administered within the first 24 hours after exposure.

As part of the local Western Cape State Veterinarian’s response to the incident, TEARS Animal Rescue together with other animal welfare organisations and private veterinary clinics will be hosting a number of free Rabies Vaccinations Drives for dogs and cats to be vaccinated as a means to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading and to ensure the health of people and pets.

TEARS will be hosting a Rabies Vaccination Drive for unvaccinated pets at its TEARS Veterinary Hospital Head Quarters in the Lekkerwater Road parking lot on Saturday 1 June from 11h00 – 14h00. Appointments aren’t necessary and Rabies vaccinations are free, but all dogs must be on lead and cats in pet carrier boxes.

The Western Cape State Veterinarian has arrange for additional vaccination drives to be hosted in the Capri area for dogs and cats next week. These include:

  • Tuesday, 4 June 2024, 10:30am -2:30pm at the open field on the corner of Tahiti Way and Capri Drive
  • Wednesday, 5 June 2024, 10:30am-2:30pm at the open field on the corner of Wesley Road and Jefferson Road, in Sunnydale
  • Thursday, 6 June 2024, 10:30am-2:30pm next to Nomzamo Site 5 Masiphumelele Clinic.

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA is also advertising free vaccinations around the Metro, next week.

The primary risk of rabies introduction comes from the movement of infected dogs, which can then spread the virus through contact with other dogs in public spaces or through fences. Rabies is transmitted through direct contact between dogs, including licking, scratching, nipping, and biting.

Rabies can be transmitted to people through the lick, scratch, or bite of a rabid animal.

If bitten by an animal suspected of having rabies, your first step is to clean the wound with soap and water for 15 minutes. This is a critical step and one that you can take immediately. Thereafter, go to the hospital/emergency room/clinic to seek further medical attention. Here, you will be assessed and arrangements made for you to receive post exposure prophylaxis, which usually includes a series of rabies vaccinations as well as RIG (rabies immunoglobulins), depending on the nature of the bite. RIG are not available everywhere – the doctor will guide you as to your next step. The doctor can call the nearest public sector hospital to determine where vaccine and RIG stocks are available.

Note the animal's location since it may need to be captured and monitored for any signs of rabies.

If you know the owner of the animal that bit you, get all the information you can, including its vaccination status and the owner’s name and address.

Notify your local health department and state vet, especially if the animal wasn’t vaccinated.

Rabies outbreaks can be entirely prevented by vaccinating dogs and cats. By law, all dogs and cats in South Africa must be vaccinated against rabies by their owners. Failure to vaccinate pets can result in the animals being euthanized if they come into contact with a rabid animal, and owners may be held liable for any damage caused if their animal becomes rabid.

For enquiries regarding the vaccination of pets against rabies please contact TEARS Reception at 021 785 4482 or email tears@tears.org.za.