Rabies is a dreaded infectious disease that is spread due to a bite or saliva of an infected animal. The rabies virus affects the central nervous system and progressively damages the spinal cord and brain. If untreated, rabies is fatal. Rabies can be contracted from infected wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Sometimes domesticated animals such as cats and dogs can become infected unless they are vaccinated against rabies.
Symptoms of rabies appear within a month of exposure to an infected animal. The severity of the exposure and bite determine the appearance of symptoms. The patient suffering from rabies is likely to have fever and headache. There might confusion and hallucinations. A person suffering from rabies will have excessive salivation. There might be difficulty in swallowing. Fear of water (hydrophobia) is another symptom. Paralysis and breathlessness may result.
Testing for rabies includes blood and saliva tests and examination of the brain tissue and spinal fluid. The wound site must be carefully cleaned with a virus-killing cleanser. Treatment for rabies includes a dose of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and five doses of rabies vaccine over a 28-day period. It is essential to be vaccinated with the rabies vaccine immediately after exposure. While the immune globulin is injected around the site of the bite, the rabies vaccine is injected into the upper arm.
Rabies vaccine is administered to persons who have been exposed to an infected animal. It is also given to persons at higher risk of exposure to rabies. Animal handlers, laboratory workers and veterinarians are usually vaccinated against rabies as they might be frequently in contact with rabid animals. Rabies vaccine helps the infected person's body start production of antibodies. While rabies immune globulin provide initial antibodies, the ones produced by the body provide lasting protection. The rabies vaccine is administered in 5 doses - days 1, 3, 7, 14 and 28. Along with the first dose, the exposed person is given a shot of human rabies immune globulin. There might be mild reaction to the vaccine such as swelling and tenderness the site of the injection. There might be fever, nausea and headache.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: May 25, 2018