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A RABIES pet vaccination campaign will run from 18 to 20 June at Fourways Mall. Free vaccinations will be given at gate five of the open parking lot.

The vaccination campaign will be spearheaded by the City’s health department and the Gauteng department of agricultural and rural development. People can bring their pets between 9am and 5pm for the shots.

“The public can choose between having the vaccination of their pets done by their private veterinary or by the state,” said the City’s spokesperson, Nkosinathi Nkabinde. People living in the area bounded by the N14, the Krugersdorp Highway; Malibongwe Drive; Witkoppen Road; and William Nicol Drive are urged to bring their pets for vaccination or revaccination

Rabies is a contagious disease that people can get from animals and is caused by a virus which affects the nerves and brain. The virus is often found in saliva and is spread to people through close contact with infected saliva via bites or scratches. Symptons can occur from seven days to six months after being infected by the virus.

“It is prudent to avoid touching or caressing a strange, injured or sick animal and rather call a state veterinarian or animal welfare organisation,” said Nkabinde.

The vaccination campaign comes after a ten-week-old puppy got sick and died. It had been rescued in Coffee Bay, in Eastern Cape by a family that brought it back to Joburg. It exhibited typical signs of rabies, including behavioural changes, excessive vocalisation, biting of the fence around the home, diarrhoea and vomiting before it died.

In a separate incident, a dog belonging to a building contractor from Pretoria that was taken to KwaZulu-Natal and brought back started displaying signs of rabies. It was discovered later that it had contracted rabies.

Nkabinde emphasised the importance of vaccinating cats and dogs, which is a legal requirement. “Failure to vaccinate domestic pets is illegal and poses a great danger to public health,” he said.

He also added that any person or domestic pet bitten by a stray animal that showed signs of rabies should immediately contact their local state veterinarian or local health authority.

Signs of the disease in animals vary widely and include behavioural changes, aggressiveness and paralysis.

In humans, symptoms include headache and fever, irritability, restlessness and anxiety, muscle pains, malaise and hydrophobia, vomiting, hoarse voice, paralysis, mental disorder, profuse salivation and difficulty in swallowing. According to the World Health Organization, once symptoms of the disease develop in humans, rabies is nearly always fatal.

For more information about the campaign, contact the state veterinarian on 011 821 7700 or 011 411 4300.

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