Jackal Rabies in KZN, a new threat

In 2012 there was a serious outbreak of canine rabies in the Okhahlamba area. This led to a spill over into the jackal population (See concentration of cases in the northern corner of map) with a number of other wildlife species becoming victims (Caracal; Baboon; Dassie). Following an intense vaccination campaign amongst the local dog population, the disease disappeared and has not been seen in the Canine population since!

It was however suspected that we had not seen the end of the jackal cycle, and so far in the January 2015 we have had 3 jackal cases (2 in Estcourt near Wagondrift dam and now 1 near Nottingham rd) This represents a movement of nearly 130Km from the original outbreak, and I believe we can consider the whole of this midlands area now a potentially endemic Jackal rabies area.

Rabies map


Spread(see map)

 Little is known (Scientifically) about the current jackal population. It is however agreed on by most people that there has been a significant increase in the population in recent years (Especially in the commercial farming areas) and that their territories are smaller than before. This will obviously contribute to the spread of the disease and its future. With large vaccinated dog populations in its path the disease has possibly both spread along the Drakensberg wildlife areas, and more likely amongst the commercial farms where the population seems denser. Rabies in jackal can be cyclical and is dependent on the jackal population, which fluctuates depending on disease, drought etc.  

WARNING(Be vigilant)  

  1. We can expect rabies to pitch up almost anywhere in the area and so all sectors of the public must be made aware. ( Health department will be energized for human exposures)
  2. We can expect rabies in other wildlife species and spill over’s into cattle other livestock and in unvaccinated dogs.
  3. Tourists are warned in wildlife areas, as the baboon (Very rare occurrence) that was positive attacked people without provocation from some distance. This could be true for other species, as well as animals suddenly appearing amongst tourists unafraid before biting.  

What to Do!

  1. Ensure all dogs and cats are vaccinated – Currently the national protocol of a three yearly vaccination, with initial vaccinations, happening at 3months and a booster before the end of the first year apply.
  2. High risk livestock can be vaccinated at the owner’s expense. (Please ensure adherence to vaccine manufacturer’s specification as vaccines differ for livestock use, and some are not recommended.)

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