Rabies vaccine campaign to continue

Lynette Thole and Ali Jaffer from Woodlands brought all three of their dogs for the vaccine. Ningi Xulu, a techinician from the State Vet, is seen administering the vaccine.

More than 2500 dogs were vaccinated last week in various parts of Northdale during a vaccination drive launched by the KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in an effort to eradicate the rabies scourge that has engulfed the Midlands.
The department teamed up with the State Vet, the SPCA, and various private veterinary clinics to vaccinate as many dogs as possible in a short period.
“We intensified the inoculation drive, education and awareness programme, due to a desperate need to concretise efforts and ensure greater accessibility to vaccines to previously disadvantaged communities,” said MEC Themba Mthembu, who led a team of vets in the drive.
Mthembu indicated, however, that the campaign to stamp out rabies in the province is competing against a widening myth, especially in rural communities, that the vaccines kill the hunting instinct and has a contraceptive effect in dogs. This deters some community members from bringing dogs for vaccinations.
“To date, we have lost four lives through dog and cat bites in the province. Three out of those four were children. We are encouraging the public to disregard this misconception and bring their pets to vaccination clinics across the province. A dog or cat bite is fatal. They must not wait until another death happens,” he said.
The Department’s Chief Director of Veterinary Services, Dr Dumisani Mtshali, said research shows that by vaccinating 70% of the dog population in KwaZulu-Natal, they can eradicate rabies in a short space of time.
“We are currently able to vaccinate between 30-39% of the dog population due to the cases of non-cooperation caused by negligence and myths in the communities. We have a challenge to dispel the myth, reach those lax members of the communities in order to reach 70%,” he said.
Mtshali added that while the vaccine can protect the dogs for three years, they have decided that the province-wide vaccination campaign would run annually due to the continued resurgence of rabies cases in the province, that dogs whelp more often and that there is frequent importing of dogs that must also be vaccinated. The department has put aside R6 million for medicinal acquisitions and purchased an additional 22 vehicles for animal health clinics as part of the vaccination drive.
Ginette Bentley, a technician from the State Vets office, said the vaccination drive was off to a good start.
“We have received an overwhelming response from pet owners. Our next stop is Impendle,”said Bentley.

  AUTHOR
Keroshini Paltu

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