Rabies reported from West Rand, Gauteng Province

In June 2021, two cases of rabies were confirmed in jackal from the Cradle of Humankind area, Mogale City Municipality, Gauteng Province. In addition, three jackal in the same area were suspected of rabies, but not confirmed. In response, rabies vaccination campaigns in dogs have been underway in the affected and surrounding areas. During the week of the July 25th 2021, rabies was confirmed in a honey badger in the same area.  Three human exposures to the honey badger were reported. It is reported that all three cases have received rabies post-exposure prophylaxis and wound care to prevent rabies infection.

Rabies is controllable and preventable. The disease is effectively controlled in domestic dogs through rabies vaccination. The public is urged to ensure that their dogs are fully vaccinated against rabies. Dogs that are not fully vaccinated for rabies are susceptible to infection. Campaigns in response to the above-mentioned cases are ongoing in the affected area of Mogale City. If any animal is suspected to be rabid (including animals presenting with unusual behaviour, hyper-salivation, signs of paralysis), contact your local or state veterinarian (Vet.help@gauteng.gov.za) in order for the animal to be investigated. Do not approach or attempt to handle animals that are not known to you. The public should refrain from engaging in direct interactions with wildlife. Often, rabid wildlife may appear tame and it may be tempting to feed or pet such animals.

When possible exposures in humans do occur (for example through bites or scratches inflicted by a suspected rabid animal), all wounds must be washed thoroughly with soap and water. It is then crucial that rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is sought immediately at a healthcare facility. Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is considered a live-saving emergency intervention following possible rabies virus exposures. Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis entails thorough cleaning of the wound site/s followed by rabies vaccination and rabies immunoglobulin therapy. More details on rabies post-exposure prophylaxis are available here

Rabies is a fatal infection, which has been an endemic disease in South Africa for many years. It is reported in various parts of the country involving different animal species. Known, ongoing cycles of rabies exist in domestic dogs, black-backed jackal, mongoose species and bat-eared fox in certain locations of the country. Spill-over to other wildlife and domestic species do occur, sometimes in locations where the disease is not often reported. The number of cases of rabies in dogs fluctuate, mostly due to the level of vaccination of the dogs in a given area. Human rabies cases are most often associated with exposures to rabid domestic dogs. In Gauteng Province, rabies is reported infrequently in mongoose and jackal, and more often on the rural outskirts of the province. In 2010, and extensive outbreak in domestic dogs was reported in south-western Johannesburg (including Soweto). One human case was reported during this outbreak. The outbreak was controlled through extensive dog vaccination campaigns in the area. In 2016, an outbreak of rabies in jackal was also reported from Mogale City, in the Muldersdrift surrounds, with few cases confirmed in domestic dog and none in humans.

For more information on rabies, click here 

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