Rabies is an infection caused by the bite of an infected animal. This virus is of the rhabdovirus form. If treatment is not provided at an early stage, this virus can prove to be fatal. It can affect or infect your system in two ways:
- It can penetrate to the brain via PNS (peripheral nervous system)
- It can replicate in the muscle tissue and then can penetrate to the neuromuscular junction
Once inside the brain, soon it will cause inflammation which will lead to coma and eventually death.
To learn about prevention and cure of rabies it is first important to understand it’s transmission.
Rabies is common in places with a large number of stray dogs and monkeys like Asia and Africa. Rabies gets transmitted through saliva. The saliva can get into your system through the bite of an infected animal or when this saliva falls on an open wound. The infection will get through only if the skin is broken. Other animals associated with rabies are coyotes, raccoons, foxes or bats.
When a person is bit by an animal, it is virtually impossible to know if it is rabies or not as the virus takes time to penetrate into the tissue. Lab tests won’t return traces of the viruses. A skin biopsy can detect rhabdovirus but by the time results arrive, it will be too late to treat. Hence, when a person is bit by an animal, they are started with a course of medicines to treat rabies as if it were rabies.
The infected person should wash the wound with soapy water for about 15 minutes. This may reduce the number of viral particles. Medical help will then become absolute necessities. After the symptoms start to appear, it is probably safe to start the prescribes series of shots which are really effective in stopping virus growth. It is important to note that only a small number of people have survived rabies. Once the symptoms occur the virus is fatal. It is important that the patient is made as comfortable as possible. Also, they may need breathing assistance.
There are a variety of prevention strategies adopted by governments and non-governmental organizations. They are:
- Rabies vaccinations are provided to stray animals on a large scale
- All people on a widespread scale take part in rabid vaccinations
- The ban on import of animals across continents
- Educational awareness in schools and public spaces
On an individual basis each one of us can take few precautions:
- Vaccinate all your pets for rabies
- Small pets can’t be vaccinated, so they should be kept in a cage
- Report stray animals to the authorities
- Animals should be kept confined to protect them from predators
- Do not approach wild animals
- Keep bats out of the home
These are just some tips. Your protection is in your hands. Prevention is and always will be better than cure.