Rabies in South Africa
05 Jan 2023
Public health authorities in South Africa report that rabies continues to be transmitted in the country. In December 2022, a child from Vhembe District was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with rabies.
From 1 January 2022 to 13 Decmeber 2022 there were 13 cases of rabies in South Africa. The affected provices were Eastern Cape (7 cases), Limpopo (4 cases) and KwaZulu-Natal (2 cases).
A further 6 probable cases were reported from Eastern Cape (5 cases) and KwaZulu-Natal (1 case).
Rabies is a fatal viral infection which affects the brain and nerves. The virus is spread through the saliva of infected animals, usually following a bite or scratch.
Advice to Travellers
Before you travel, you should:
- check if rabies is a risk at your destination
- consider having rabies vaccines before travel; see a travel health professional (at least 4-6 weeks before you travel) if you think you might need a rabies vaccine course or booster dose
- be aware what to do if you think you have been exposed to rabies virus
- determine if there will be any reliable medical facilities at your destination
If you are travelling to a country where rabies is considered a risk, you should:
- avoid contact with animals, especially dogs, cats and monkeys: be aware that some animals can be infected with rabies without being aggressive or behaving strangely
- be aware that children are more likely to approach animals. Check them for wounds, and encourage them to tell you if they are bitten, licked or scratched by an animal
- read the animal bites page for advice on how to prevent being bitten by bats and animals
- seek immediate medical attention if you might have been exposed to rabies
For further information, see the fitfortravel Rabies page.