Cape of Good Hope SPCA Cautions Public Following Confirmation of Rabies in Local Seal

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The Cape of Good Hope SPCA urges the public to exercise caution following confirmation from the Western Cape Provincial Veterinary Services of a rabies case in a Cape Fur Seal along our coastline.

The affected seal was found off the coast at Big Bay and died on May 22, 2024, with laboratory results confirming rabies earlier today. A further two suspected cases from different areas are pending confirmation.

Rabies is a serious viral disease that can affect mammals, including humans, and is typically transmitted through bites or scratches from an infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted if the saliva from an infected animal comes into contact with the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth).

We advise beachgoers and pet owners to take the following precautions:
  1. Avoid Contact with Seals and Wildlife As a General Rule:
    • Do not approach, touch, or interact with seals or any other wild animals, whether they appear healthy or not.
    • Maintain a safe distance from seals on the beach and get out of the water if a seal enters it.
  1. Keep Pets on a Leash:
    • Always keep dogs on a leash when visiting the beach.
    • Do not allow pets to approach or interact with seals or other wildlife.
  2. Report Unusual Behavior:
    • If you notice a seal or any wild animal exhibiting unusual behaviour, eg showing excessive and uncharacteristic aggression or unusually docile behaviour, vocalising abnormally,  struggling with mobility or foaming at the mouth, please report it immediately to the SPCA or local wildlife authorities.
  3. Vaccinate Your Pets:
    • Ensure that your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. This is a crucial step in protecting them and your community from the disease.
  4. Seek Medical Attention if Bitten or Scratched:
    • If you or your pet are bitten or scratched by a seal or any wild animal, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies can be fatal if not treated promptly.
    • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for at least 15 minutes.
    • Contact your healthcare provider or visit the nearest medical facility to receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) as soon as possible.
    • Report the incident to local health authorities and the SPCA for further action.
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA is in contact with the relevant authorities and our wildlife team is ready and equipped to handle any reports of distressed or potentially rabid animals. Please call 0217004158/9 for assistance.
We understand the enjoyment that beaches bring to our community and their pets but ask that you please remain aware to keep yourself and your pets safe.

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