Unraveling the Menace of Rabies: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention
Rabies is an avoidable, unpleasant and sometimes fatal illness which spreads via an interaction with an infected animal. It stems from a virus that targets the brain and other parts of the central nervous system (CNS).
Humans can contract the virus from domestic animals like dogs, cats, and rabbits as well as from wild animals like raccoons, bats, and skunks through bites and scratches. Rapid reaction is essential in the battle against the infection. Although it is avoidable, rabies is deadly.
Rabies is a dangerous disease that nearly never recovers. If you receive treatment as soon as possible, it is fortunately entirely avoidable. Get in touch with your healthcare provider straight away if you believe you may have contracted rabies or if you have been bitten by an animal.
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What Are the Symptoms of Rabies?
After rabies enters your body, it often takes many weeks before you experience any symptoms. Flu-like symptoms appear when rabies enters the prodromal phase and enters your central nervous system. You experience neurological, or brain, symptoms in the latter stages.
Prodromal Symptoms of Rabies
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Burning, itching, tingling, pain, or numbness in the bite wound
- Tiredness (fatigue)
Acute Neurologic Symptoms of Rabies
Rabies can cause either paralysis or fury as neurological symptoms. Symptoms of furious rabies may occur intermittently, interspersed with quiet intervals (furious episodes).
Furious rabies symptoms
- Aerophobia is the fear of air drafts or blowing in your face.
- Fear of water/drinking (hydrophobia).
- Facial paralysis (facial palsy).
- Two different-sized pupils (anisocoria).
- Excessive salivation.
- Fast breathing (hyperventilation).
- Racing heart (tachycardia).
- Muscle twitching (fasciculations).
- Agitation and aggression.
Paralytic rabies symptoms
- Tingling, or other unusual feelings
- Weakness, particularly when it begins with the bitten body part and spreads to other body parts
- Neck stiffness
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What Are the Causes of Rabies?
Rabies is transmitted by animals through bites or scratches, with saliva being a common carrier. Human-to-human transmission is rare, usually occurring through corneal transplants.
Rabies, primarily transmitted through unvaccinated dog bites, reaches the brain rapidly via nerves, causing severe inflammation and swift death. Early medical attention is crucial, especially for neck bites.
The rabies virus may spread among domesticated and wild animals alike. The primary animals from which people contract rabies are the following:
What Are the Steps to Take if Bitten by a Potentially Rabid Animal?
Should an animal have pricked or bitten you:
- Wash the wound with soap and water as soon as you can. Use a 10% povidone-iodine solution if available.
- Contact a healthcare provider or your public health department as soon as possible. Tell them what happened and give them as much information as you know about the animal. (Did it look like a pet or a wild animal? What kind of animal was it? How was it acting?)
- Find out from your doctor which cleaning technique is best for the wound and if you require a rabies vaccination.
- If you’ve been attacked by an aggressive wild animal, contact animal control.
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What is the Treatment for Obsessive-compulsive Disorder?
When symptoms appear, there is no recognized cure for rabies. As soon as possible, get in touch with a healthcare professional if you believe you have been exposed to rabies due to animal bites or contact with an infected person.
Using soap and water, carefully yet completely clean the wound. For more information on cleansing the wound, ask your doctor.
To stop the virus from producing rabies, your healthcare professional will administer a series of doses, or vaccines. If you have never had a vaccination, they will also apply an antibody therapy directly to the wound.
Medications prevent an infection from travelling to your brain if you’ve been exposed to rabies (post-exposure prophylaxis/PEP). These medications are often combined:
- Rabies Vaccine – Your doctor will administer four injections to you over fourteen days. Should you have had your vaccination before exposure, two injections would suffice. The vaccination instructs your body to eliminate the rabies virus before it has a chance to infect your brain.
- Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) – You will receive injections around the wound from your doctor. The antibodies (infection-fighting molecules) that HRIG provides will kill the virus close to the wound until your body takes control. If you had a vaccination before your exposure, you shouldn’t get HRIG.
How Can You Prevent Rabies?
It is possible to avoid rabies. Avoiding contact with wild animals and making sure your pets are secure will help shield you against rabies exposure. If exposed, vaccination can stop rabies before symptoms appear.
- Make sure your pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date. This includes dogs and cats.
- Never leave your pets unattended when they are out and about.
- Respect wildlife. Refrain from handling injured animals or attempting to catch them yourself.
- If you find a bat in a room where someone was sleeping, assume they’ve been bitten. Bat bites are small and fade quickly, so you might not notice them. Contact a healthcare provider right away.
- Call a medical professional right away if a wild animal bites or scratches you, or if you have come into contact with rabies in any other manner.
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PREP, is the suggested course of action if you have a high risk of contracting rabies.
Rabies is a dangerous disease that nearly never recovers. If you receive treatment as soon as possible, it is fortunately entirely avoidable. If you believe you may have contracted rabies from an animal bite. then it is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced general physician. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a general physician, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment with a leading doctor at the CK Birla Hospital.
Can You Survive Rabies Once Symptoms Appear?
Once rabies symptoms appear, survival is extremely rare. The disease is nearly always fatal, emphasising the importance of immediate medical attention and preventive measures like post-exposure prophylaxis before symptoms manifest.
If an Animal Has Rabies, How Can You Tell?
Determining if an animal has rabies may be challenging. Look for behavioural changes, aggression, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing. However, rabies confirmation requires laboratory testing on the animal’s brain tissue.
Are All Animals Capable of Transmitting Rabies?
Most mammals can transmit rabies, but certain species, like rodents, rabbits, and small mammals, are rarely found to be rabid. Common rabies carriers include foxes, skunks, raccoons, and bats.
Is Rabies Preventable Through Vaccination?
Yes, rabies is preventable through vaccination. Pre-exposure vaccination is recommended for individuals at higher risk of exposure, and post-exposure vaccination is crucial after potential exposure to the virus.
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