The public have been urged to have their dogs and cats tested and vaccinated for rabies after the death of an Umlazi woman two months after she was bitten by a neighbour’s dog.
The dog has yet to be put down.
Clementia Cele, 52, of Ezingonyameni near Umlazi, failed to seek medical help after being bitten on her right forearm on March 24, according to animal health technicians with the provincial department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs.
Department spokesman Jeffrey Zikhali said:
“On Thursday (May 24) she got sick and was spitting, drooling, groaning like a dog, biting herself and vomiting.”
Cele was admitted that day to Umlazi’s Prince Mshiyeni Hospital and doctors diagnosed her with rabies (subject to a blood test), after the history of dog bite emerged, Zikhali said.
She died the following day.
“All members of the family who have (been in contact) with the deceased’s saliva were advised to visit the hospital for administration of post-exposure prophylaxis.
“We also arranged with the family for a post-mortem to be performed,” he said.
Zikhali said the woman had started scratching and complaining of pains on the healed wound site last Thursday.
“Pains were followed by hydrophobia, difficulty in swallowing saliva, weakness and vomiting, and she was sent to hospital when symptoms got worse,” he said
“They showed us the owner’s residence and our next move is to go there,” he said.
Also falling victim to a rabid dog was an eight-year-old Bergville girl, Luyanda Snethemba Hlongwane, who died on May 18, said Zikhali.
Still fighting for his life after being infected with rabies is Graeme Anderson, 29, an Underberg maize and beef farmer who has been at Medi-Clinic Private Hospital in Pietermaritzburg since the beginning of the month.
Zikhali said it was believed Anderson may have had small cuts which could have come into contact with a dog’s saliva, infecting him.
“He found a greyhound abandoned and took it in. Not long afterwards it started getting sick and died,” he said.
Zikhali said that according to Anderson’s doctor and the family’s spokesman, Dr Grant Lindsay, Anderson was currently on the Milwaukee protocol.
This is an experimental course of treatment for an acute infection of rabies in a human being.
The treatment involves putting the patient into a chemically induced coma and administering antiviral drugs. Zikhali said according to Lindsay a person on this protocol had a five percent chance of survival, whereas if they were not on it, their chances were 0.5%.
“He is still alive, but it is apparently not looking good. The MEC went to see him on Friday, but was not allowed in the ward due to the severity of the virus,” he said.
Meanwhile, a three-year-old also from Ezingonyameni is also fighting the same battle in a Durban hospital after contracting rabies. However, Zikhali said his condition had improved and he is beginning to swallow some food.
“He, however, still can’t talk or sit up on his own,” Zikhali said.
“We are pleading with the communities to have their dogs and cats tested as they are having full-scale vaccination campaigns around the province.”