Mind Matters

Rabies

Rabies is one of the oldest diseases of the world. In fact some say that the name “RABIES” is derived from the Sanskrit word “RABHASA”, meaning chaos or violence. When saliva enters through broken skin or bite, the virus present in that reaches the brain and causes swelling or inflammation.

It spreads through dog bites in developing nations. However in United States it is the bats and raccoons that spread the disease rather than dogs for in United States the dogs are often fully vaccinated.

Foxes and skunks are the other wild animals that spread the Rabies.

World Health organisation Rabies Statistics across the Globe

The following are the WHO statistical details of Rabies across the globe:

More than 55 000 people die of rabies each year. About 95% of these deaths take place in Asia and Africa.

Most human deaths follow a bite from an infected dog. Between 30% to 60% of the victims of dog bites are children under the age of 15.

Incubation Period for Rabies

The time between the bite and actually expression of infection symptoms varies. It is somewhere in between a week to as long as 10 years. The average incubation period is 3-7 weeks.

  • Anxiety, stress, and tension
  • Drooling
  • Convulsions
  • Exaggerated sensation at the bite site
  • Excitability
  • Loss of feeling in an area of the body
  • Loss of muscle function
  • Low-grade fever (102 degrees F or lower)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness and Tingling
  • Pain at the site of the bite
  • Restlessness
  • Swallowing Difficulty(Drinking causes spasms of the voice box)

Advice

The moment a dog or any stray animal bites you, please inform the local authorities. Request them to capture the animal. Monitor the animal and check it for Rabies symptoms.

Diagnosis of Rabies

A special techniques call immunofluorescence test is used for diagnosing Rabies. The test is carried out after the death of the animal. In human the test can be carried out from the skin taken from the neck region. Body fluids such as saliva and Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) are also tested for the presence of the virus.

Recommended Firs Aid after the Bite

Wash the wounded region immediately and thoroughly with an effective soap. Go to a doctor immediately so that the doctor further cleans the wounds and removes the remaining foreign bodies. If few stitches are applied over the wounded place it will ensure total safety.

If any further risk is suspected you will be given a series of a preventive vaccine. This is generally given in five doses over 28 days.

Most patients are also administered a treatment called Human Rabies Immunoglobulin (HRIG). This is given the day the individual is bitten.

If the preventive measures fails and infection catches sadly there is no cure for the symptoms of infection.

Prognosis for Rabies

Vaccination must be given within two days of the bite. But once the infection starts there is no way one can prevent the imminent death. The affected individual will die mostly within a week after the symptoms start. Death occurs due to respiratory failure.

Possible Complications of Rabies

  • Rabies if untreated leads to coma and death.
  • Some times the individual my develop allergy for the vaccine.

Preventive Measures for Rabies

To help prevent rabies:

  • Avoid contact with stray animals.
  • Get vaccinated if you are in a place where there is high risk of being bitten by stray animals and while visiting countries where the epidemic of Rabies is present
  • Vaccinate your pets properly.
  • Follow proper quarantine measures while importing dogs and other animals form an endemic nation.

Vaccinating the stray dogs is the most cost-effective measure of preventing the death of people across the globe due to Rabies.

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