Rabies virus is a disease that causes irreversible encephalitis (infection of the brain tissue). The disease is transmittable between all warm-blooded animals, including humans. This virus is mainly transmitted through bite wounds. Dogs are the main carriers in KZN. South Africa is among the countries with a significant human infection rate.
When symptoms are present, the mortality rate is almost 100%. Although there are some reports on an antidote in human Rabies cases, immediate treatment (which serves more as prevention) is still the best way to manage possible suspect and even non-suspect cases. All canine, feline and wild animal bite wound victims should consult an experienced medical doctor or even go to their closest hospital casualty for proper advice immediately after the incident.
In dogs, Rabies is suspected to be present in non-vaccinated animals when the animal is rabid and hypersalivating. If these cases are presented to the police, veterinarians or charity organisations, without official proof of up to date Rabies vaccination, the person in charge has the authority to refer the case to the state veterinary department where the animal will very likely be euthanised and tested. The only accepted test is done on the brain tissue of the suspected animal.