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Rabies in South Africa (Human)

14 Jun 2012

Two individuals have died from rabies virus infection in KwaZulu Natal Province so far in 2012. The first was a child from the Winterton/Bergville area of the province where an outbreak of rabies has been ongoing since January 2012. The second case was a 29 year-old farmer from Underberg who gave shelter to a stray dog that later became sick and died from rabies. He did not sustain any bites and did not report the incident as he was unaware of the risk.

Three individuals in Gauteng Province have received post-exposure rabies treatment after being bitten by a puppy that they brough home from KwaZulu Natal Province. The puppy subsequently became sick and died and rabies was laboratory confirmed.

Human cases of rabies are reported annually in South Africa and to date there have been 6; 3 in KwaZulu Natal and 3 in Limpopo provinces.

Advice for Travellers

Travellers to South Africa should be made aware of the rabies risk and be advised to avoid all contact with animals and dogs in particular. All animal bites should be reported and assessed carefully. Rabies pre-exposure vaccine is available for those considered to be at risk.