“ Rabies” is a disease caused by the rabies virus that causes acute, severe encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in mammals, including humans.
It is also known as “hydrophobia”.
The disease kills people, and if not treated immediately a person infected will almost always die.
What is rabies? Cont'd
Rabies inflicts its hosts to the point where he/she is unable to drink water, thus resulting in death.
It is rare in the United States thanks to vaccines, though it can still be found in other parts of the world.
How to Get Rabies
Mammals can only get rabies.
The most common way to get rabies is to be bitten by a rabid animal.
It is also possible to get rabies simply from handling an animal infected with rabies through the air surrounding them.
How to Get Rabies cont'd
Mammals such as bats, raccoons, skunks foxes, foxes, and coyotes are the most common hosts.
It is not limited to smaller animals; animals as large as bears have been known to contract the disease
Symptoms of Rabies
The rabies virus can be within its host for four weeks without showing any signs.
Humans infected with rabies experience symptoms that get progressively worse with time.
Symptoms start out with a sore throat, headaches, and a fever.
If not immediately treated, the rabies will then induce violent movements, hallucinations, seizures, the inability to swallow water, foaming at the mouth, coma, and finally death.
Without a prompt vaccine, the infected will almost always die within ten days of the symptoms.
How rabies is diagnosed
Rabies can be difficult to diagnose, at least in the early stages. People suspected to be hosts of the virus usually undergo one of the following tests:
Direct fluorescent antibody test (DFA) – a tissue sample is taken of the suspected area of infection and notices if the rabies protein is present; this test is the fastest
Polymerase chain reaction assay (PCR) – finds the specific DNA of the rabies protein if present; this is the most accurate
Animals that do the biting are also tested. They can be diagnosed most easily through abnormal behavior: an unnaturally increase in drooling, mindless aggression, and nocturnal animals wandering about during daylight hours all indicate something is very wrong.
Treatment of Rabies
Treatment is absolutely essential for survival of the disease, and can be done the following ways:
Using a “virus-killing cleanser” on affected area wherever the bite occurred.
Using a vaccine known as rabies immune globulin (HRIG)
Injection of several separate vaccines including HDCV and DCO doses to completely eradicate the disease.
How to avoid Rabies
To completely avoid the chance of getting rabies, do not pet any stray or wild animals.
Get vaccinated if you are not already as soon as possible, as well as pets.
Move to Australia, Ireland, Japan, Gum or other island countries if you want no threat of rabies at all.
The Texas-Mexico border has the biggest likelihood for rabid stray animals to appear.
Raccoons are the most common rabid animals in the United States
If You Have Been Bitten
If you feel you have contracted rabies, immediate action must be taken:
Wash the bite thoroughly with soap, water, and a sort of iodine solution to kill the fairly common germs associated with animal bites.
Get the name, phone number and address of the animal if it is a pet.
Contact local humane society. Do not try to capture the rabid animal or more people may get hurt and inoculated with rabies.
Call 911 and go immediately to hospital
Cultural Impact Rabies has a particularly bad reputation due to is effects on animals and humans. As a result, there has been a number of things that have come as a direct response of the disease:
Cujo – A horror film in which a rabid dog stalks and attacks a family
World Rabies Day – on Sept 28, in response to the fact that one person dies from rabies every ten minutes, this day of observance was created to bring about people's awareness of the disease
Alliance for Rabies Control - Great Britain has a charity that serves essentially the same purpose as what World Rabies Day promotes