RA­BIES FROM A COW! In­fected beast’s milk puts 9 at risk

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Whins­ley Masara

A FAM­ILY of nine in Nkayi has been put un­der sur­veil­lance as it is feared to have con­tracted ra­bies af­ter con­sum­ing milk from a cow that had been bit­ten by a stray ra­bid dog.

The fam­ily ad­mit­ted to have milked the cow for over a month un­til it died last week af­ter it had been bit­ten by the dog.

Ra­bies in hu­mans is fa­tal in most cases and in­fected peo­ple slowly be­come paral­ysed and even­tu­ally slip into a coma and die.

Nkayi District Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer Dr Tha­bani Moyo said the fam­ily re­ported to the Depart­ment of Ve­teri­nary Ser­vices af­ter their cow sud­denly died and tests con­firmed that it had suc­cumbed to ra­bies.

Dr Moyo said even though the fam­ily mem­bers are not show­ing any signs and symp­toms of ra­bies, there are fears that they con­tracted it af­ter milk­ing an in­fected cow and con­sum­ing its milk for a month.

“The fam­ily mem­bers who are not yet show­ing signs and symp­toms of ra­bies are un­der sur­veil­lance,” said Dr Moyo.

He said en­vi­ron­men­tal health tech­ni­cians are mon­i­tor­ing the fam­ily which has since pur­chased the anti-ra­bies vac­cine.

Dr Moyo said it can take be­tween two months and six years be­fore hu­mans can show signs and symp­toms of ra­bies.

“Ra­bies can be con­tracted through con­sum­ing prod­ucts from a ra­bid an­i­mal,” said Dr Moyo.

“The fam­ily ad­mit­ted to have been milk­ing the cow since Au­gust un­til it died.

“They re­ported the mat­ter to the ve­teri­nary ser­vices who took sam­ples from the car­cass which tested ra­bies pos­i­tive. We re­ceived the re­port and ad­vised the fam­ily to pro­cure treat­ment as it was pos­si­ble that they could have con­tracted the dis­ease.”

Dr Moyo said it was un­for­tu­nate that there is no ra­bies vac­cine in the district but the fam­ily was ad­vised to pur­chase the vac­cine else­where.

“A fam­ily mem­ber, Mr Roni Ndlovu has since man­aged to se­cure the ra­bies vac­cine for his fam­ily in Bu­l­awayo, cost­ing up to $45 per full course per per­son,” he said.

Ra­bies is a life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion and dogs are the most com­mon source. It’s caused by a virus that at­tacks the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem and the virus is trans­mit­ted to hu­mans via bites and scratches from in­fected an­i­mals.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, up to 59 000 peo­ple world­wide die from ra­bies ev­ery year.

The ini­tial on­set of ra­bies be­gins with flu-like symp­toms, in­clud­ing fever, mus­cle weak­ness and a burning feel­ing at the bite site.

In­fected peo­ple be­come hy­per­ac­tive and ex­citable and may dis­play er­ratic be­hav­iour. Other symp­toms in­clude in­som­nia, anx­i­ety, con­fu­sion, ag­i­ta­tion, hal­lu­ci­na­tions, ex­cess sali­va­tion, fear of wa­ter and prob­lems swal­low­ing.

Mata­bele­land North Pro­vin­cial Med­i­cal Di­rec­tor Dr Nyasha Masuka urged all peo­ple who own dogs to en­sure that they are vac­ci­nated.

“All stray dogs should be re­ported to the lo­cal Depart­ment of Live­stock and Ve­teri­nary Ser­vices so that they can be put down. If any­one is bit­ten by a dog they should find out the vac­ci­na­tion sta­tus of the dog from the owner.

“If the dog is not vac­ci­nated or if peo­ple are not sure, they should go to the near­est health fa­cil­ity for treat­ment and ra­bies vac­ci­na­tion.

“Other an­i­mals like don­keys and cat­tle can bite hu­man be­ings if they are in­fected with ra­bies and peo­ple should quickly re­port such un­usual be­hav­iour by do­mes­tic an­i­mals,” he said.

Dr Masuka warned peo­ple not to eat meat or drink milk from cat­tle or any other live­stock that would have been bit­ten by dogs with­out as­cer­tain­ing the vac­ci­na­tion sta­tus of the dogs.

“This Nkayi fam­ily is lucky to have re­ceived their dead cow’s sta­tus con­fir­ma­tion as they have been made aware of their pos­si­ble sta­tus. We will keep them un­der sur­veil­lance and en­sure they are safe be­cause a ra­bid per­son is very dan­ger­ous as the dis­ease highly af­fects the brain,” he said.—@win­nie_­masara.

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