Rabies in South Africa (Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo)
02 Dec 2021
Public health authorities in South Africa have reported 6 cases of rabies in people in October and November 2021. Cases have been reported in Eastern Cape (4), Kwa-Zulu Natal (1) and Limpopo (1) provinces and further suspected cases are under investigation.
In total, there have been 17 cases of rabies in South Africa from 1 January to 23 November 2021, all in the provinces named above. All are related to an outbreak of rabies in dogs.
Rabies is a serious viral infection which affects the brain and nerves. The virus is spread through the saliva of infected animals, usually following a bite or scratch.
Advice to Travellers
Before you travel, you should:
- check if rabies is a risk at your destination
- consider having rabies vaccines before travel; see a travel health professional (at least 4-6 weeks before you travel) if you think you might need a rabies vaccine course or booster dose
- be aware what to do if you think you have been exposed to rabies virus
- determine if there will be any reliable medical facilities at your destination
If you are travelling to a country where rabies is considered a risk, you should:
- avoid contact with animals, especially dogs, cats and monkeys: be aware that some animals can be infected with rabies without being aggressive or behaving strangely
- be aware that children are more likely to approach animals. Check them for wounds, and encourage them to tell you if they are bitten, licked or scratched by an animal
- read the animal bites page for advice on how to prevent being bitten by bats and animals
For further information, see the fitfortravel Rabies page.