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Rabies in South Africa

05 Nov 2018

The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseaseshas reported 14 cases of rabies in  people up to October 2018. Eight of these cases were reported from KwaZulu-Natal and 6 from Eastern Cape. Two additional probable cases were reported from Eastern Cape. In all of 2017 there were 7 cases of rabies in people in South Africa. The current increase is related to an ongoing outbreak of dog rabies in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.

Advice for Travellers

Any animal contact in a rabies endemic area poses a potential risk of infection.

  • Rabies is the most dangerous of all infectious diseases. There is no recognised treatment once symptoms begin and with the exception of a tiny number of cases, those who develop symptoms of rabies will die.

  • An effective rabies vaccination is available.

  • All travellers to rabies endemic areas should be aware of the risk of rabies and advised to avoid contact with animals (both wild and domestic), particularly dogs and cats.

  • Children are more vulnerable to rabies than adults as they are less likely to comprehend the risk of animal contact, less able to defend themselves from an animal attack and may not report a potential exposure.

  • All travellers to endemic areas should be aware of immediate wound care and advised to seek medical attention immediately if bitten or scratched by an animal.

For further information (including post-exposure advice) see Rabies.