Dogs are man’s best friend, that’s what most people say. While this may be true, it’s not always the case. There are times when dogs can cause harm, especially if they haven’t received their rabies vaccinations. Rabies is a viral disease that affects thousands of people around the world. It’s not just dogs that can transmit it; various animals and even humans can cause it to spread. In this article, you will learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatments for the disease. Keep reading!
Rabies is a type of infectious disease which can affect almost all homoeothermic animals, including us humans. The condition, which is mainly transmitted via the bile or saliva of an infected animal, is caused by the Neurotropic lyssavirus. This virus affects the central nervous system and salivary glands. Its symptoms may lead to serious complications, especially if the virus is not immediately treated.
The rabies virus is actually a type of RNA virus, which belongs to the rhabdovirus family. It can affect the body in either of the following ways:
- It reproduces within the muscle tissue, where it’s much safer from the immune system of the host. From there, it goes through the nervous system through the neuromuscular junctions.
- It directly goes through the PNS, or the peripheral nervous system, and then travels into the brain.
Once it is in the nervous system, the virus will produce acute inflammation of the brain, causing a coma or even death.
Types of Rabies
There are two types of rabies:
- Paralytic or dumb rabies: in this particular type of rabies, paralysis is the dominant symptom.
- Encephalitis or furious rabies: this specific type of rabies actually occurs in about 80% of the human cases. Hydrophobia and hyperactivity are the most common symptomse.
Symptoms of Rabies
The condition progresses in five distinctive stages:
- Prodromal stage
- Acute neurologic stage
This is the period of time before symptoms appear. While it usually lasts 3-12 weeks, it can take up to 2 years. The location of the bite is a big factor, because the closer the bite is to the brain, the sooner the effects show. The moment the symptoms appear, it may already fatal. Medical assistance is paramount.
Symptoms may include:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Sore throat
- Fever of 4 degrees Fahrenheit or above
These symptoms may last for about 2-10 days.
Acute Neurologic Stage
Symptoms may include:
- Priapism in males
- Insomnia, nightmares and hallucinations
- Partial paralysis
- Aggression and confusion
At the end of this phase, breathing may become rapid and inconsistent.
Coma and Death Stage
When the infected person enters into a coma, death may occur in a matter of hours. It is very rare for a person to recover at this stage.
Causes of Rabies
Rabies is mainly caused by the Neurotropic lyssavirus. This affects the nervous system and the saliva. Most cases in humans are because of a bite or scratch from an infected animal, primarily dogs and cats.
Treatments for Rabies
If a person is bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, one of the best treatments is to wash it immediately for about 15 minutes with soap and water. This may help minimize the number of viral particles. After this, seek medical help immediately.
After being exposed and before the symptoms appear, a series of vaccines may help prevent the virus from prospering. This is one of the most common preventive treatments for rabies.
The strategies may include:
- A series of rabies vaccine: injecting this into the arm over the next 2-4 weeks may help train the body to fight off the virus when it finally finds it.
- A fast-acting dose of rabies immune globulin: this must be delivered as soon as possible near the bite, helping prevent the virus from infecting the person.
Here are some prevention tips for rabies:
- Educational information and awareness.
- Widespread vaccinations for humans in various areas.
- Restrictions or bans on the import of various animals from other countries.
- Regular rabies vaccinations for pets and all domestic animals.