Health officials in Angola on Monday warned that more needs to be done to prevent the spread of rabies, which has killed 82 children in Luanda, more than a quarter of them in the last two weeks.
"In 30 years I have never seen as many cases as this. I think we have to do a lot more about the circulation of dogs in the city," said Luis Bernardino, director general of Luanda's Bernardino paediatric hospital.
Advertisement"It is important that we learn a lesson from this. We need to reorganise the veterinary service to have better surveillance over the disease and the animals," Bernardino told AFP.
According to Bernardino, between the beginning of November and February 21, the hospital received 83 children with the illness. All but one died.
He said 13 cases were received last week, and 10 in the week before that.
The victims, all children, are mostly aged between three and 10, and come from the poor and overcrowded slum areas on the outskirts of the capital where packs of stray dogs are rife.
Last month the authorities vaccinated more than 100,000 animals in the capital and patrols have been collecting up stray cats and dogs from the street.
Rabies is transmitted in the saliva through a bite of an infected animal.
The former Portuguese colony emerged from three decades of conflict in 2002 and is now using its oil and diamond wealth to rebuild itself, but despite these riches, social indicators remain poor.
Angola has one of the worst child mortality rates in the world with more than one in four youngsters dying before their fifth birthday, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.
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