Everything you need to know about Rabies
Rabies is a zoonotic viral disease. It occurs both in domestic and wild animals. Rabies is mainly spread through bite from an infected animal. Without early treatment, the disease can prove fatal for both animals and human beings.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), rabies is one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases. It is endemic in over 150 countries. More than 95 percent of the rabies cases in the world are reported in Asian and African countries.
However, rabies is 100 percent preventable with the right kind of vaccination and awareness programs.
Rabies virus is mostly transmitted between animals, and between animals and humans. It happens through close contact with saliva from infected animals. The virus gets easily transmitted if the infected animal bites, scratches, and licks on broken skin and mucous membranes.
Dogs are responsible for over 95 percent of human rabies cases. Cats can also cause the transmission of viruses. Wildlife populations are usually the reservoirs for rabies infection. The virus spreads quickly from wild animals to domestic animals.
Raccoon dogs and foxes are the main wildlife reservoirs for the rabies virus in Eastern Europe. Jackals and mongooses act as reservoirs in Africa and Asia.
Animal vaccination is the best defense against rabies.
Pets can easily get infected with the disease, if they come in contact with rabid animals. The virus makes an entry into the human body through contact with rabid animals or contaminated pets.
Symptoms of Rabies
If the symptoms start to appear, it means it’s too late! Once the symptoms start to appear, rabies is almost always fatal for animals and human beings.
The symptoms of rabies in animals include acute behavioural changes and progressive paralysis. They might become aggressive, agitated and lethargic.
The first signs of rabies in humans may include headache, fever and anxiety. Dilation of pupils, seizures, hallucinations and hydrophobia are other common symptoms.
Rabies can be diagnosed through the history of a human or an animal that has been bitten or been in contact with an animal suspected of having the virus.
The earlier rabies is diagnosed, the more the chances for survival!
For someone who thinks he/she has come in contact with an infected animal, the first step is to wash the wound thoroughly with water and soap for around 15 minutes. Apply iodine solution if available.
Visit a doctor immediately who will decide whether to go for post-exposure prophylaxis or provide preventive medical treatment.
A veterinary doctor will provide a follow up of the animal suspected of having the virus.
Prevention of Rabies
Vaccination is the key and only hope for preventing rabies. Since 95 percent of the human rabies cases are dog-mediated, it is important to make sure that mass dog vaccination programs are held at regular intervals. Cats and wild animals responsible for spreading rabies infection shall also be vaccinated.
Incase of human beings, vaccination and administration of anti-rabies immunoglobulin will help in preventing the ill effects of the disease to a large extent.
It is very important to spread awareness among people regarding rabies and the importance of vaccination.
Pet owners and veterinarians play a major role in the global fight against rabies by ensuring maximum vaccination.
According to the reports of the World Health Organization, 59,000 people die annually across the globe suffering from Rabies. Every year, more than 29 million people in the world receive post bite vaccinations as well.
Boehringer Ingelheim (pharmaceutical company) is a global leader in the fight against Rabies. They provide a range of vaccines for preventing rabies in pets, farm animals and wildlife.
As responsible citizens, we should work closely with veterinarians, government and non-governmental organizations and health authorities to successfully prevent the spread of rabies disease.
World Rabies Day is observed every year on September 28 to raise awareness about rabies prevention. The day also marks the death anniversary of French biologist Louis Pasteur who developed the first rabies vaccine.
Let’s join our hands in the fight against rabies!
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The symptoms of rabies in animals include acute behavioral changes and progressive paralysis. They might become aggressive, agitated and lethargic.