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Rabies Disease and Vaccination

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a rare but serious disease caused by the rabies virus. It affects the nerves and the brain.

The virus is usually transmitted by a bite from an infected animal. Rabies can be prevented if the bitten person gets treatment quickly. If a person is not treated and develops rabies, it is almost always fatal.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Rabies?

The first symptoms of rabies can appear from a few days to more than a year when the bite happens. At first, there is a tingling, prickling, or itching feeling around the bite area. A person also might have flu-like symptoms such as a fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, and tiredness.

After a few days, neurological symptoms develop, including:

Irritability or aggressiveness

Excessive movements or agitation

Confusion, bizarre or strange thoughts, or hallucinations

Muscle spasms and unusual postures

Seizures (convulsions)

Weakness or paralysis (when someone cannot move some a part of the body)

Extreme sensitivity to bright lights, sounds, or touch

What Causes Rabies?

Rabies is caused by the rabies virus. Infected animals have the virus in their saliva. The virus enters the body through broken skin or the eyes, nose, or mouth, and travels through nerves to the brain. There it multiplies and causes inflammation and damage.

Exposure to rabid dogs is the most common cause of transmission to humans.

Is Rabies Contagious?

Rabies is not contagious, as in, it does not spread from person to person. The virus most often spreads through bites from an infected animal. But it may also unfold if the animal’s spittle (spit) gets directly into an individual’s eyes, nose, mouth, or Associate in Nursing open wound (such as a scratch or a scrape).

How Is Rabies Diagnosed?

A biting animal that is caught may be tested to check the virus is in its brain, however it should be euthanized (put to sleep) initially. If it is a healthy pet, such as a dog, cat, or ferret, experts recommend watching the animal for 10 days to see if it gets sick.

Doctors give two shots as soon possible:

Rabies immune globulin: This provides protection quickly whereas the immunizing agent starts operating.

Rabies vaccine: This is given as a series of four doses, on days 0, 3, 7, and 14 (day 0 is the day of the first dose). People with a weakened system get an additional dose on day twenty eight.

How Is Exposure to Rabies Prevented?

To reduce the chances of rabies exposure:

  • Vaccinate your pets.
  • Report stray animals to your local health authorities.
  • Remind kids not to touch or feed stray cats or dogs wandering in the neighborhood or elsewhere.

What Else Should I Know?

If your kid has been bitten by Associate in Nursing animal, especially if it was an unknown dog or wild animal:

Wash the bite area well with soap and water and cover the bite with a clean bandage.

Call your doctor right away and go to the nearest emergency department. Anyone with a possible rabies infection must be treated in a hospital.

Call local animal-control authorities to help find the animal. It may need to be caught and watched for signs of rabies.

If you know the owner of the animal that bit your child, get all the information you can, including its vaccination status and the owner’s name and address. Notify your native health department, particularly if the animal wasn’t immunized.

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