Two human cases of rabies virus infection have been reported in Mzimba district in the Northern Region of Malawi. Both cases died in hospital in Mzuzu.
The first case was a 45-year-old male from Ziyalera village, the second was an 8-year-old boy from Mfumula village. Both cases had been bitten by a rabid dog and were transferred from Mpherembe Health Centre to Mzuzu Central Hospital where rabies vaccine was available. Mpherembe Health Centre has since been supplied with rabies vaccine.
Medical staff at Mpherembe Health Centre are concerned about the growing number of dog bites reported in the area. Normally only 0-1 dog bites are reported in a two week period, however, in the last two weeks, 3-4 bites have been reported each week. This appears to be related to the increasing number of stray dogs around.
Veterinary officials are currently in Mpherembe conducting a vaccination campaign and capturing stray dogs, particularly those with signs of disease.
Advice for Travellers
Malawi is a high risk destination for rabies among the animal population. Travellers should always avoid all animal contact and report any bites immediately for medical assessment. Rabies pre-exposure vaccine should be considered for those at risk.