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Public Health Response to the Confirmation of Rabies in Cape Fur Seals

Issued by George Municipality on behalf of Garden Route District Municipality

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), together with Western Cape Veterinary Services, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), City of Cape Town Coastal Management, and other partners are working closely to establish the extent and timeline of the outbreak through further sampling and testing.

Circular H80/2024, which is aligned to Circular H19/2022: Rabies: Updated Draft National Human Rabies Prophylaxis Guideline and the Prevention of Human Rabies Cases:

This serves as an alert to inform healthcare providers and workers of the necessary public health response following a confirmed rabies case in a wild Cape Fur Seal from Big Bay, Blouberg, Cape Town.

The sample was taken from the seal in question on 22 May 2024 and was confirmed to be infected with rabies by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture on 7 June 2024.

Rabies has never been detected in seals in Southern Africa before, and this is one of the very few detections in seals worldwide.

Information on various seal bite incidents has been received by the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness from the City of Cape Town Coastal Management, Oudekraal, Kommetjie, Muizenberg, Blouberg in Cape Town, and Plettenberg Bay.

Rabies in unvaccinated animals can lead to the spread of the disease and can be fatal to humans. Therefore, with the confirmed rabies case in Cape Town, the public needs to be advised of the following: