Farmers are continuously losing their livestock in Kwekwe rural district after being affected by rabies, prompting the veterinary services department to vaccinate all dogs in the district to eradicate the disease.
There are so far no human deaths recorded in Kwekwe rural district due to rabies, but recently five people died from other parts of Midlands province between January and April after being bitten by infected dogs.
Rabies is invariably fatal and the only treatment for humans is vaccination which is 100 percent effective, soon after the bite or other source of infection before symptoms develop.
Animal vaccinations are also 100 percent effective in preventing the disease from spreading.
Unvaccinating dogs are seen as the main risks.
Veterinary provincial director for Midlands province Dr Martin Sibanda said they were having about two to three suspected cases of rabies per week affecting livestock.
He said cases were seen in dogs, cattle and goats, with most farmers burning and burying the affected animals.
Dr Sibanda said rabies could be eliminated completely if the department constantly vaccinated all dogs in the country.
“We are currently vaccinating all dogs in Kwekwe, both urban and rural, but our worry is that there is no sufficient vaccine for a mass campaign which is necessary in eliminating the disease,” he said.
“We are supposed to vaccinate the dogs twice a year, but our vaccine is not sufficient enough to do that. Livestock that are found with rabies are put down to prevent the disease from spreading.”
Dr Sibanda said the department was trying to control the situation.
Dogs are infected by jackals, but generally one dog is infected and then affects other unvaccinated dogs which in turn attack livestock and people.