Important animal species associated with rabies in Africa are dogs, cats, cattle, mongoose, bat-eared foxes, and jackals. Animal rabies is endemic in South Africa and both wild and domestic animals are important reservoirs. All mammals are susceptible to rabies and can transmit rabies virus, but dogs are the most important source of human rabies infection in Africa, as well as the yellow mongoose. Globally, dogs are the major reservoirs. Dog rabies in South Africa is most prevalent in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga Provinces.

There have been a number of successful control initiatives in the province of Kwazulu Natal. Most of the cases occur in rural areas.

There is a low risk when travelling in more rural areas and this can be further reduced by avoiding touching any animals. Post-exposure prophylaxis (both vaccine and rabies immunoglobulin) is readily available.

Protecting your family and pets against rabies

Protecting your family and pets against rabies

Updated: 28 June 2019

Rabies Fact Sheet in South Africa

Rabies is a contagious viral disease causing damage to the brain and the spinal cord…

Rabies - Frequently asked questions

Rabies - Frequently asked questions

Updated: 21 September 2017

Rabies factsheet

Rabies is a fatal illness caused by a virus that spreads to humans from contact with animal saliva. This can happen when an infected animal bites or scratches you.

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Important Notice

You are advised to visit your general practice surgery or a travel medicine clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel. However, it is never too late to seek advice.

If you have a medical condition, you are advised to discuss the suitability of the trip before you book.


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