Upon learning about the recent Rabies outbreak in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Ballito resident, Mark Taylor (40) has shared his story in hopes to empower and educate others about the devastating disease.
In November 2012, Mark was on his way from Pietermaritzburg to Durban when he noticed a dog in the middle of the highway that appeared to have been hit by a car and was severely injured.
As Mark approached the dog, he noticed its head raise slightly and the animal appeared to still be alive. Waiting for the traffic to clear, Mark rushed to the dog’s aid in hopes to rehabilitate the poor creature.
“Being an animal lover I decided to stop and try and rescue the dog and against my better judgment laid him in the backseat of my car. As I bent over to pick up the dog it jumped up and bit me on the side of my face to form a cut about 10cm long from my ear down to my jawbone. The dog then ran away until I managed to catch it and take it to a nearby vet” – Mark recalls.
When Mark arrived at the vet, the doctor voiced his concern that the dog might have rabies on account of the canine’s erratic behaviour. As a precautionary measure the vet tended to Mark’s open wound and sent him to a near by hospital to get Rabies Prophylaxis Injections, despite the dog’s saliva samples testing negative for the disease.
The vet recommended that the unclaimed dog be put down due to its extensive injuries and arranged that portions of the dog’s brain be tested in the lab. More comprehensive tests revealed days later that the dog had indeed contracted the deadly disease and Mark was notified to seek further treatment.
“The experience weighed heavily on me psychologically and still today I struggle to wrap my head around the ” What If’s“. I was fortunate. Many others have not been so lucky. A concerning fact about Rabies, is that once the disease manifests itself 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 3 years after exposure. It is for this reason that one needs to ensure that one goes for the necessary treatment as soon as one has received a bite or a scratch from any stray animal including dogs, cats, rats, mice etc. If the medication is administered correctly then the disease is also 100% preventable. More people need to be aware of this disease to avoid more casualties” – says Mark
Inspired by the remarkable work Dr. Vanessa Meyer and her team from Rabies Awareness Eshowe are doing to eradicate rabies, Mark set up a campaign on donations based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy on his 40th Birthday. Thus far R2386.79 has been raised to assist the organisation on the front line of this epidemic.
“I hope to raise R10 000 for Rabies Awareness Eshowe, to empower them to vaccinate as many animals as possible in the Ballito area. With this effort I also hope to create awareness and educate others especially those in disadvantaged or high-risk areas, so they can better protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Rabies Awareness Eshowe began in August 2017, at the dawn of the Zululand Rabies outbreak and have proven invaluable to their community.
“The Department of Agriculture has 180 field workers in a province of an estimated 1.2 million dogs. Our aim was to take some of the load off their shoulders and assist with rabies awareness. We are currently 3 ladies that see to the running of our group on a daily basis – myself, Cathy Munro, Lee-Anne Watkins as well as 11 registered vaccinators who volunteer their time and assist when we run vaccination campaigns in our area.” – says Dr Vanessa Meyer
Receiving no government funding the team try to keep their expenses as low as possible.
“We are fortunate to be provided with the Rabies vaccine in order to carry out our duties but have to rely on our own funds for everything else, any donations to Mark’s BackaBuddy campaign will help towards our petrol and telephone calls primarily” – says Vanessa
According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Rabies cases have also been confirmed in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, with another possible case in the Free State. There’s cause for concern says Vanessa.
“As of April 2018, we have seen a 400% increase in the number of rabies cases, and so far this year 4 human lives have tragically been lost to rabies in KZN alone. It is the deadliest disease on earth and very close to 100% fatal. People die from rabies only due to lack of awareness and lack of primary health care. Approximately 55 000 people die every year from rabies worldwide.” – says Vanessa
Donate to Mark’s BackaBuddy campaign to raise funds for Rabies Awareness Eshowe here
“Rabies is a deadly disease that can’t be ignored. It doesn’t discriminate but it can be eradicated – if we stand together” – says Mark
Follow Rabies Awareness Eshowe here
Watch the “Human Rabies” segment on Carte Blanche here