Underberg farmer and top canoeist Graeme Anderson has been declared brain dead after contracting rabies from a stray dog, a family spokesman and doctor said on Thursday in Durban.
"We discovered through a SPECT scan on Wednesday that Anderson was brain dead. His family will have to turn the machines off in the next few days," Dr Grant Lindsay said.
Anderson (29) has been in the ICU at a Pietermaritzburg hospital for about five weeks.
"He contracted rabies from the saliva of a sick dog he had taken in and kept in his shed," Lindsay said.
A hundred and twenty-five rabies cases have been reported in KwaZulu-Natal since the beginning of the year. Two people have died as a result of the outbreak in the province.
KwaZulu-Natal agriculture and environmental affairs MEC Meshack Radebe launched the rabies campaign in the Royal Hotel in Durban on Thursday.
The World Health Organisation has donated R16.5-million to help fight rabies in the province.
Manager of the Rabies Elimination Project, Kevin le Roux, said the money would contribute to the vaccination of about 600 000 animals a year.
The department would roll out a vaccination programme aimed at vaccinating 70 percent of animals in KwaZulu-Natal a year.
Awareness campaigns in the media worth R1-million would be used to encourage people to vaccinate their animals.
"The department of education has agreed to let children go home and collect pets on vaccination days in their communities.
"I've suggested that there should be a way of marking all vaccinated dogs and cats, so if someone decides to play with a pet, they will at least know if it has been vaccinated," Radebe said.