Patient's Complete Guide to Rabies

Overview of Rabies

Rabies is considered as one of the fatal infections, caused by the rabies virus. Immediate treatment is recommended because it may cause death abruptly.

Signs and Symptoms of Rabies

Rabies meaning in urdu (Bawlay Kuttay Kay Jaraseem Ki Bemari /باولے کتے کے جراثیم کی بیماری ) is a serious disease caused by a fatal virus. The virus is transferred to people through the saliva of infected animals. If the infected animals bite the people, it is easily spread to them. Some animals which are more likely to cause this disease such as:

  • Stray dogs
  • Bats
  • Foxes
  • Raccoons
  • Shunks

It is not only spread to the people but also to healthy pets from the rabid animals.
The mortality rate of rabies is very high of any other diseases in this world , almost 99.9%. For this reason, a person should receive a rabies vaccine before symptoms begin to appear. Once the symptoms appear, it may cause death.

Prevalence of Rabies:

According to the WHO report, around 59,000 people have died from rabies globally. In which, 99% of people have been bitten by a rabid dog and 30% of cases are due to paralyzed rabies all over the world. After the introduction of the vaccine for animals and people, the mortality rate starts to move towards the decline phase than before.

Types of Rabies

Once the person is infected with the rabies virus, the incubation period (time between the bite and onset of symptoms) generally takes 4 to 12 weeks to develop rabies symptoms.  It can be prolonged from a few days to six years.

The flu-like symptoms of rabies represent the initial signs of infection. Some of which are given below:

  • Tingling
  • Fever
  • Muscle weakness
  • Burning at the bite area

Causes of Rabies

Depending upon the persistence of the virus in the central nervous system for a longer time, rabies is further divided into two main types.

  • Furious Rabies

Infected people who suffer from furious rabies, are hyperactive and excitable. They also show erratic behaviour. Other symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Excess salivation
  • Swallowing problems
  • Fear of water
  • Paralytic Rabies

In this type, the virus stays in the central nervous system permanently. Eventually, they damage the CNS and become the patients paralyzed. If the person is not treated then it may cause coma and death.

Risk Factors of Rabies

Rabies is caused by the rabies virus (genus Lyssavirus) present in the saliva of infected animals.
There are a number of following ways to transmit this rabies virus from person to person via direct or indirect means.

  • Broken skin
  • Damaged mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Open wounds or cuts
  • Abrasions
  • Scratches
  • Have contact with the blood, urine or faeces of a rabid animal

Aside from this, another mode of transmission is the inhalation of aerosolized rabies virus for people who are working in animal labs.
Rabies virus is inactive in a dry state or due to sunlight exposure. It means different environmental affects the active or inactiveness of the rabies virus.

Prevention

Certain factors that can enhance the risk of rabies include:

  • Travelling Activities
  • People living in countries where it is common such as in Africa and Southeast Asia
  • People who work in farms, animal labs or poultry areas are more prone to this disease
  • People who have head or neck wounds are more susceptible to rabies infection

Diagnosis

To reduce the risk of contact with rabid animals:

  • Vaccinate the pets such as cats, dogs and against rabies.
  • Keep the pets inside to reduce wild animals exposure.
  • Keep small pets away from predators for their safety.
  • Keep bats out of the home. Seal the way where bats can enter the house.
  • If a person is travelling in the country where rabies may cause, then consult the doctor before leaving.

Treatment of Rabies | When to Consult a Doctor

To diagnose rabies, there is no specified test to identify whether the rabid virus transmits to a person after biting. For this reason, doctors recommend the rabies vaccine to a bitten person if needed, depending on the way the animal has bitten and type of animals.

Healthcare Providers

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