A donkey mauled a five-year-old child and killed a goat in Tsholotsho, raising fears of a rabies outbreak in Matabeleland after two similar incidents in the province recently. Mpaninziba villagers told The Chronicle the tot was hospitalised with serious bite wounds.
They said they feared for their lives following the donkey’s strange behaviour on Tuesday. The villagers said the animal was still roaming free.
Chief Tategulu yesterday said: “The child was attacked last month and the goat was killed on Tuesday.
“I don’t have finer details on how the biting and killing took place but the donkey is still being kept by its owners.”
He said the donkey might be infected with rabies.
The chief said donkeys are among the tamest domestic animals and it was unheard of that they would attack people and kill livestock.
“The village head of the area told me about the incident.
“I was even asking why the donkey is still alive when it’s supposed to be killed as it has rabies symptoms. A donkey doesn’t attack people if it’s not infected with rabies,” he said.
Chief Tategulu said the donkey should be put down to prevent spread of the disease.
Matabeleland North provincial veterinary officer Dr Polex Moyo said chances are high that the donkey is infected with rabies but said he did not want to cause alarm as tests have to be conducted before concluding there indeed was a rabies outbreak.
“People should go for testing. It is unusual for a donkey to do such a thing.
“The first thing to think in such a case is rabies. But I’m not confirming as laboratory tests have to be done first,” he said.
Dr Moyo said villagers must develop a culture of reporting unusual animal behaviour in their areas.
“I don’t know why farmers are not reporting these cases. We sometimes read about them in the newspapers but we have district offices everywhere,” said Dr Moyo.
“When there is crime people report to the police, when they get ill they go to the doctors.
“They should do the same when they face these incidents.”
He said unreported cases may result in deaths, urging members of the public to approach the veterinary department. Two weeks ago, The Chronicle reported a case where a donkey killed and ate a goat in Halali area Matobo District.
Last month, two people in Filabusi were mauled by a donkey. Rabies may be deadly if not treated and in February two people died in Tsholotsho after they were infected with the virus.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects mammals.
Symptoms of the disease can take up to 10 days to be noticed and some notable signals include general body weakness, appetite loss, salivation, hydrophobia, indiscriminate biting, delirium and convulsions.