Precious Manomano Herald Reporter
One person died from rabies in Mberengwa district last week after being bitten by an infected dog while several domestic animals have died from the disease since the beginning of the year.
The Department of Veterinary Services is presently carrying out a vaccination exercise against rabies in the Midlands to mitigate livestock mortality.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease, most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal and the rabies virus infects the central nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. It is incurable but is preventable by vaccination and even a bitten and infected person can be saved if vaccinated soon after being bitten.
The vaccination programme is targeting dogs with the thrust to reduce the spread of the disease.
Statistics show that over 20 domestic animals which succumbed to rabies included six donkeys, 10 dogs, four cows and one cat since January, after they were bitten by infected dogs this year.
Veterinary Provincial Director for Midlands Dr Martin Sibanda said the department was carrying out vaccination of rabies to all dogs in hotspots in the province to curb the spread of the disease.
Dr Sibanda urged all people who were in contact with infected animals to go to hospital and seek treatment and also visit the nearest veterinary department to have their dogs vaccinated.
Communities were encouraged to report early to their nearest veterinary offices if they suspect cases of rabies and strange behaviour from their animals.
“Mass vaccination of dogs should be done twice a year but because of limited resources, we are not able to do it. Dogs that are found with rabies are put down to prevent rabies from spreading to people and other animals.
“All dog owners should ensure that their dogs are vaccinated. If anyone is bitten by a suspicious dog, they should seek medical attention soon after they are bitten. We also encourage people to bring their dogs for vaccination,” he said.
Dogs are infected by jackals, but generally an infected dog infects other unvaccinated dogs, which in turn attack livestock and people.
Last year, five people died from rabies in Midlands after being bitten by infected dogs.
Rabies virus is found throughout the world including North America, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and some parts of Europe.
However, there are areas in the world that are rabies-free, mainly island countries where effective measures can be taken to prevent potentially infected animals from entering.
Free areas include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, Iceland, United Kingdom, certain Pacific Islands, Antarctica and parts of Scandinavia, a near island peninsula with the point of contact with Europe in an area where climate makes it hard for stray dogs or foxes to move.