Rabies scare in Harare

Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe has warned that Harare could be affected by rabies after a dog tested positive in the capital.

In an interview with The Zimbabwean VAWZ’s Animal Welfare Officer, Mel Hood said that the rabies case was discovered after a couple stopped to help a dog that had been hit by a car.

“A very concerned couple stopped to help a dog that had been hit and badly injured by a car along The Chase last week. The dog was very aggressive, which is a natural reaction when they are in pain, biting one of the rescuers,” Hood said.

She said that the dog was put to sleep on advice from a vet and sent for a rabies test.

“The outcome was positive,” she said. Hood advised members of the public to be cautious when approaching unknown dogs or any animal.

“If you do come into physical contact, seek medical advice immediately,” she said. “There is a high incidence of Rabies in Harare and children in particular should be warned not to play with strange dogs or puppies.

According to VAWZ records for 2012 show that 11,450 people were bitten by dogs in Zimbabwe and of these, 11 died from Rabies.

“While Rabies is 100 percent fatal it is also a preventable disease – we cannot stress enough the importance of having your pets vaccinated,” VAWZ said in a statement.

VAWZ said that dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths. “Wound cleansing and immunization within a few hours after contact with a suspect rabid animal can prevent the onset of rabies and death”.

“Stray dogs, or dogs that are acting strangely, should be reported immediately to the authorities (your nearest Veterinary Surgery, The Government Veterinary Department, SPCA or VAWZ),” the statement added.

VAWZ stressed that in Zimbabwe it is a legal requirement for owners to have their dogs vaccinated against Rabies.

“All dog (and cat) owners should have their animals vaccinated annually,” VAWZ said.

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