SEPTEMBER 28 is World Rabies Day, a day set aside to highlight the prevalence of the world’s deadliest infectious disease and how to prevent it through vaccination.
Dogs that are commonly seen unattended in our suburbs are the animals most likely to catch rabies and spread it to humans.
Infectious cats are equally dangerous.
According to latest statistics, an average of 100 people in Zimbabwe have been killed every year by rabies for the past five years.
A frightening reality about rabies is that there is no known cure yet for this viral disease, once symptoms appear.
People bitten by a dog or any animal are advised to thoroughly wash the wound with running water and soap for up to 20 minutes.
Immediate vaccination from the nearest medical centre is imperative.
All this is meant to suppress symptoms, which if they appear, mean certain death.
Incubation period is two to tree months, if symptoms are to appear.
The only way to stop your dog being infected by this deadly virus is to have it vaccinated when it is still a three-month old puppy.
This is a legal requirement.
After the initial vaccination, available at all veterinary stations, subsequent jabs are expected each year.
The duration may vary according to the advice of a qualified vet.
Those from the Veterinary Services Department frequently visit centres in different locations where they offer jabs for no more than US$1 per animal.
This is an effective preventative measure, since a vaccinated dog or even a cat, for that matter, is free from this deadly viral disease.
Dogs are not wild animals and are supposed to be owned by individuals through own volition.
These canines are very useful in ensuring safety of our premises.
And if they are trained to stay within the confines of their premises, they seldom attack anybody outside their area of jurisdiction.
Dogs become especially handy with the increasing number of burglaries at different homesteads. Here, the would-be thief is less worried about rabies infection but more about the sharp teeth of the dog.
It is a pity that most owners of these protective pets don’t seem to worry about their well being.
They are neither fed nor vaccinated.
Not only that, but they are left to wander outside their homes, scavenging.
And some of these dogs don’t seem to be aware of the properties they are supposed to protect.
They just attack for fun.
There are stories, in various suburbs, of schoolchildren bitten by these wandering dogs on their way to school or to play.
Even adults have also found themselves victims of these neglected dogs. However, in most cases, the owners are aware that their dogs are always on the prowl.
What they might not know is that, while roaming, they are more likely to come into contact with animals that might infect them with rabies.
It is not easy to identify a rabies-infected dog and yet nothing should ever be taken for granted.
Always safety first.
So it is wise not to trust any dog, and it’s better to suspect each of them to be a carrier of this deadly virus.
We urge the Councils to enforce by-laws which ensure that at least all dogs are vaccinated, with frequent door-to-door checks.
Appropriate fines should be imposed on those who don’t comply.
But the main question is: What should be done with stray dogs marauding our suburbs?
We suggest that stray dogs with no-one claiming ownership should be euthanised and the SPCA should be able to assist in this regard.