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South Africa health officials reported two additional human rabies cases in August in Zululand and eThekwini districts of KwaZulu-Natal Province, respectively, bringing the total for 2023 to eight confirmed human rabies cases.

Image/Robert Herriman

Cases were identified in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal (n=4), Eastern Cape (n=3) and Limpopo (n=1).

Due to a lack of public awareness of the disease, low dog vaccination rates, and sometimes inadequate PEP given to bite victims, rabies deaths continue to occur in South Africa. Despite the fact that once symptoms manifest, rabies is invariably fatal, it is completely preventable after contact with rabid animals. To prevent rabies, thorough wound cleaning is followed by a dose of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) and rabies vaccine given on the day of exposure for category 3 wounds (breach of skin, any bleeding, contact with mucosal membranes, or broken skin). The remainder of vaccine doses are then given on days 3, 7, and between 14 and 28. Successful community rabies prevention depends on rabies risk education, community engagement, vaccination of dogs and cats, appropriate wound care, and prompt PEP intervention.

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