Posted on 2016-02-26 14:33:19
The Durban & Coast SPCA needs to alert the public to the risk of rabies, an unpredictable disease which can have potentially serious consequences for pets and humans. We are saddened and shocked by a recent adoption case where a puppy was adopted at 2 months old, happy and healthy…only to manifest symptoms three weeks later. The result is a devastated family now grieving her loss and having to undergo anti-rabies treatment for themselves. We send our heartfelt sympathies to the family. The SPCA does regular health checks of pups and this unpredictable disease is one that cannot be foreseen. Unfortunately the disease can only be suspected after the start of symptoms, and can only be confirmed at post-mortem.
What is Rabies? Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted through the saliva from an infected mammal to another mammal. This occurs usually through an infected animal biting a human or another animal. Transmission can also occur through saliva touching an open wound or touching mucous membranes. It can be passed from mother to pup during grooming or in the breast milk.
What are the signs and symptoms? Rabies has an incubation period of a few days to over 3 months. During the incubation phase an animal will show no signs and will appear completely healthy.
There are varying symptoms and often rabies in the early stages can be misdiagnosed as parvo, distemper or other diseases.
There are two types on rabies; ferocious rabies and dumb rabies. Ferocious rabies, the type most are familiar with, is when the animal will become aggressive. This type often displays in domestic animals. Dumb rabies causes the animal to appear more docile and often displays in wild animals.
In the end stages of rabies, infected animals will have a glazed look, slack jaw and possible paralysis. The infected animal will display ‘fly catching movements’ and is prone to attacking anything that moves.
How is Rabies prevented? Your pets should be vaccinated for rabies at 3 months old, with a follow up at 4 months and then annually thereafter. If the mother was vaccinated her immunity will protect the babies up until 3 months.
It is important to note that if the animal is already incubating the rabies disease a vaccination will not prevent rabies, but will prolong the incubation period by up to one month. We must stress the need to take any sick animal (adopted or not) to a Veterinarian, especially if they have not had all their puppy/kitten vaccinations. These diseases are not predictable and can have unforeseen, potentially serious consequences for pets and humans.
What do I do if I or my pet was bitten? If you or your pet has been bitten, make sure to get written proof of vaccinations for the animal that attacked you. If there is no proof of vaccinations, you need to clean the wound thoroughly and get to a vet for your animal, or government hospital for yourself immediately. This is a notifiable communicable disease and needs to be reported to the authorities. Government hospitals or clinics will provide free advice and treatment.