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Deadly rabies outbreak rocks Ngamiland

*Two dead after being bitten by dogs

Ngamiland and the North West District are facing a deadly outbreak of Rabies, with the disease believed to have claimed two lives since the start of the year.

As of last week, at least two people, an adult and minor child, passed away at Letsholathebe Memorial Hospital in Maun from suspected Rabies.

Briefing the media this week, the District Health Management Team (DHMT) confirmed the pair died after being bitten by dogs at different locations, one in Maun and another in Chanoga.

“Ngami DHMT is drawing the community to the ALERT status in human Rabies as of 23 January 2020. This follows the declared outbreak of Rabies in animals within the district as of December 2019. To date Ngami DHMT has two probable cases that have died following Rabies infected dog bites within the district,” declared the team’s Coordinator, Dr Malebogo Kebabonye.

Since the beginning of January, DHMT has registered a further 14 cases of people classified as exposed to rabies.

The identified individuals have since been vaccinated with the anti-rabies prophylaxis to prevent the virus from spreading in their bodies.

Goats, dogs and wild animals are said to be under attack from the deadly disease, which is easily transferable to humans through contact of body fluids.

The DHMT have warned that Rabies is highly fatal and has no cure once the virus develops into the disease.

“People should see their health care professional if they think they’ve been bitten or scratched by an animal and before symptoms occur. The virus is transmitted in the saliva of rabid animals and generally enters the body via infiltration of virus-laden saliva from a rabid animal into a wound (e.g. scratches), or by direct exposure of mucosal surfaces to saliva from an infected animal (e.g. bites),” explained Kebabonye.

The public were further warned to stop skinning dead goats suspected to have died from Rabies because if the dead animals’ fluids get into their eyes, they will get the infection.

“A person exposed to the Rabies virus can develop the disease on average within 7-21 days with latency of three months to one year. The virulence of the disease is dependent on the site and depth of the wound and viral load,” continued DR Kebabonye.

Clinical signs and symptoms often include fever, pain, unusual or unexplained tingling, pricking or a burning sensation at the wound site.

As for animals, the signs are similar to those in humans, including the release of excess saliva, hyper activity and signs of madness and irritability.

Dr Odirile Thololwane of Veterinary Services attributed the outbreak to the just ended drought, which saw wild animals including jackals interact with domestic animals in their search for water and food.

According to Thololwane, thousands of dogs have already been vaccinated throughout the district, with the process ongoing.

He further revealed the issue is being sensitised in schools, as children are at a higher risk of contracting the disease because they are more likely to interact with dogs.

Thololwane ended by advising the public to be wary of stray dogs.

The doctor’s advice on what to do once bitten

  1. Wash the wound immediately with soap and water and see a health care provider. Wash the wound for approximately 15 minutes with running water
  2. Do not cover the wound
  3. Visit the nearest health facility to be evaluated and receive the anti-rabies vaccine.
  4. Complete the course of the vaccine (five days)
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