Rabies is a serious ailment brought about by a virus. It is generally a disease of animals, but humans can become infected if animals infected with the disease bites one. The virus is transmitted to humans via the saliva of an infected animal.
Wild animals that are infected particularly bats as well as raccoons, skunks, coyotes and foxes usually transmit the disease to humans. If an individual was bitten by an animal, it is vital to seek medical care as soon as possible.
The symptoms might arise in just a few days after being bit by an infected animal. Nevertheless, in most cases, the symptoms will not arise until weeks or months after.
One of the distinctive symptoms of rabies is a twitching or tingling sensation in the muscle tissues surrounding the site of the bite. Once the virus leaves the bite site, it moves to a neighboring nerve to the brain and trigger symptoms such as:
- Muscle spasms
- Excessive movements
- Agitation or aggressiveness
- Weakness or paralysis
- Abnormal or bizarre thoughts
- Difficulty speaking
- Increased tear or saliva production
- Increased sensitivity to sound, bright lights or touch
Management of rabies
Rabies can be both prevented and managed with the rabies vaccine. The vaccine works by eliminating the virus.
A special immune globulin can also be used in some cases. The doctor can help decide if rabies immune globulin is suitable for the case of the individual.
If an individual was bitten by an animal, consult a doctor or bring him/her to the nearest emergency department. The doctor will cleanse the wound thoroughly and administer a tetanus shot if not updated with the tetanus immunizations.
Individuals who are at high risk for exposure to rabies must receive the vaccine before being exposed to animals that might be infected.
The pre-exposure vaccine includes 3 doses – first dose, second dose (7 days after the initial dose) and third dose (given 21 days or 28 days after the first dose).
If the decision is made to start the vaccine shot and was not vaccinated against the disease, the individual should:
- Receive 5 doses of the rabies vaccine – first dose (right away) and the additional doses 3, 7, 14 and 28 days following the initial dose.
- Receive a shot of the immune globulin simultaneously as the initial dose of the rabies vaccine
If the individual was previously vaccinated against the condition, 2 doses of the vaccine is given (first dose is given right away and the second dose is given 3 days later). There is no need to receive a shot of rabies immune globulin.