Elita Chikwati : Agriculture Reporter
Government has added Harare to rabies prescribed areas following several outbreaks of the disease in the province this year. This brings the number of rabies prescribed areas to 11. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made made the announcements in a Statutory Instrument published in the latest Government Gazette.“It is hereby notified that the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development has in terms of Section 5 of the Animal Heath Act made the following order:
“This order may be cited as the Animal Health Rabies Area Order, 2016.
“The schedule of the Animal Health (Rabies Area) (No. 2) Order, 1995 published in Statutory Instrument 312 of 1995 is amended by the insertion after paragraph 10 of the following, Harare Metropolitan province,” the Gazette reads.
In 1995 Government declared Gokwe North, Gokwe South, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South rabies areas.
Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) director Dr Josphat Nyika yesterday said there had been an increase of rabies cases in Harare, particularly in Mt Pleasant, Mabelreign, Meyrick Park and Monavale, among others.
He said the emergence of new peri-urban areas had resulted in an increase of dog populations. To date, four people died from rabies and three were from Harare.
“This year, 359 samples of animal rabies were submitted to laboratories and 206 tested positive while 153 tested negative. Harare alone submitted 80 samples and 42 were confirmed positive for rabies,” he said.
He said rabies could be eliminated completely if the department constantly vaccinated 70 percent of the dog population in the country.
“The dog population is estimated at 700 000 and the division wishes to reach out and vaccinate this population at least twice this year.
“We require 1,4 million doses worth $700 000. Once the vaccine is made available we will conduct mass rabies vaccination campaigns throughout the country at an estimated total cost of $500 000,” he said.
The world commemmorates World Rabies Day on September 28.
Rabies is a highly fatal viral infection of the nervous system that affects all warm-blooded animal species including humans.
In Zimbabwe, the natural reservoir is the jackal.
When the virus is transmitted to domesticated carnivores such as dogs and cats, a cycle of transmission begins among domesticated carnivores endangering people.
Once the symptoms of rabies develop in animals or humans, there is no cure and the disease is fatal. Rabies kills 50 000 people worldwide every year.
The DVS has engaged the Ministry of Health and Child Care to work together so health practitioners are aware of the disease and can handle suspected cases cautiously.