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Once bitten, twice shy: A man's quest to rid KZN of rabies


Once bitten, twice shy: A man's quest to rid KZN of rabies

A Ballito man is crowdfunding for a community-based rabies awareness organisation after four people died from the disease in KZN over the past few months

Senior reporter

Haunted by his close shave with rabies and the recent rabies-related deaths in KwaZulu-Natal, a Ballito man wants to empower and educate others on the potentially deadly disease.
Mark Taylor’s crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for community-based organisation Rabies Awareness Eshowe coincided with his 40th birthday two weeks ago.
Four people died from rabies in KwaZulu-Natal over the past few months.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed cases in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape and a possible case in the Free State.
In November 2012, Taylor was bitten by a dog that he stopped to help on the freeway between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.Initial tests showed that the animal was not rabid, but he still went for a rabies shot as a precaution. And a lifesaving move that was, as a comprehensive investigation later revealed the dog had indeed contracted the disease.
Mark was subsequently instructed to seek further treatment.
“The experience weighed heavily on me psychologically and still today I struggle to wrap my head around the what ifs. I was lucky. Many others have not been so fortunate. A concerning fact about rabies is that once you have contracted the disease, it is fatal.
“There is no hope for a cure. Even more alarming is the fact that rabies can manifest inside the human body up to three years after exposure. More people need to be aware of this disease to avoid more casualties,” he said.Upon learning of the four recent rabies death in the province, Taylor set up his crowdfunding campaign to donate R5,000 to the organisation.
Dr Vanessa Meyer of the Rabies Awareness Campaign said their aim was to take some of the load off the Department of Agriculture, which has 180 field workers to vaccinate 1.2 million dogs in the province.
Departmental spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said R6-million was injected into the campaign to vaccinate and raise awareness.
“We want every area to be covered. We have sent 32 SUVs from the Animal Health Mobile Unit to underlying areas to ensure that animals are vaccinated and communities are made aware of the outbreak.”

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