Rabies

Rabies dog bite

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of Rabies

Zoonotic diseases are the ones that spread through animals. These diseases may be either viral or bacterial. People having pets at home or working at the animal care centers are at greater risks of these diseases. Rabies is a disease that belongs to the above category. It spreads mainly through dogs (and other warm-blooded domestic animals) and gives rise to hydrophobia. Each year, rabies causes nearly 24,000 to 60,000 deaths worldwide. The pet owners, as well as the farm owners, should make sure that their domesticated animals are properly vaccinated and do not spread diseases to the humans around them.

 

What is Rabies?

Rabies DogRabies is a viral disease that causes brain inflammation in humans and other mammals. The patients usually experience fever and tingling sensation at the site of exposure. The most common manifestations are immobility of certain parts of the body, uncontrolled excitement and an unexplained fear of water. The disease is mainly caused by lyssaviruses. In many cases, rabies may lead to loss of consciousness and death. More than 95% of the human deaths due to rabies occur in Africa and Asia.

 

What causes Rabies?

Rabies is caused by Rhabdovirus, which belongs to the Lyssavirus genus. When this virus comes in contact with the human or an animal host, it attaches to the body of the host. The subsequent penetration and uncoating of the virus take place, that leads to the release of the viral nucleocapsid into the cytoplasm. The virus G protein binds to the cells of the neuron. This phenomenon is known as neurotropism of the rabies virus.

Rabies dog biteOn entering the muscle or the nerve cell, the virus undergoes replication. Right from the point of entry, the virus is neurotropic. It travels along the neural pathways into the central nervous system. The muscle cells close to the site of infection are affected first. Here the virus replicates without being noticed by the immune system of the body. After the completion of replication, the viruses start binding to the acetylcholine receptors at the neuromuscular junction. Thereafter it migrates to the nerve cell body through the axon, replicates in the motor neurons and finally reaches the brain. Once the brain is infected, the virus travels to the autonomic and the peripheral nervous systems. Thereafter it travels to the salivary glands, from where it is ready to be transmitted to the next host.

 

How does the disease transmit?

The disease transmits when an infected animal scratches, licks or bites another animal or a human. Direct or indirect exposure to the saliva of the infected animal can also cause the disease, especially if the saliva comes in contact with the eyes, mouth or nose of a healthy person (or animal). The transmission of the virus to the new host also depends on the proximity of the nerve cells at the site of introduction of the virus. The virus is not spread through urine, feces or blood. Person to person transmission of the disease is very rare. Care should be taken so that a healthy person does not come in contact with the saliva of the diseased person through broken skin or open sores. People undergoing transplants or blood transfusion should be particularly aware of the transmission of the disease from an infected donor.

 

What are the signs and symptoms of Rabies?

The disease has different signs and symptoms in animals and humans.

Symptoms in animals

An infected animal usually shows the following symptoms-

  • Attacking inanimate things or other animals
  • Gnawing or biting at its own limbs
  • Tendency to hide
  • Looking depressed
  • Losing fear of humans
  • Constant drooling
  • A drooping head
  • Paralysis

Symptoms in humans

Rabies vaccinationIn humans, the incubation period of the virus is 1-3 months. This means that the symptoms start manifesting after 1-3 months of the initial infections. In some cases, however, incubation periods have been found to be as short as four days or even longer than 6 years. The following clinical features (symptoms) are generally observed in human beings-

  • Violent and aggressive movements
  • Uncontrolled excitement
  • An unexplained fear of water (hydrophobia)
  • Immobility of certain parts of the body
  • Mental confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sleep disorders (insomnia)
  • Agitated behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia and trauma
  • Coma and death

The most dangerous symptom of a rabid person is hydrophobia, or “fear of water”. It is a collective term for a group of symptoms where a person has difficulty swallowing water and cannot quench his thirst properly. These people show extreme panic when presented with water or other liquids.

The diseased person thereby produces large quantities of saliva. They may experience spasms in the muscles of the throat and larynx while trying to drink. This is often explained by the fact that the virus replicates and accumulates in the salivary glands of the infected host. Nearly 80% of the rabid people experience hydrophobia.

 

Which diagnostic tests are available?

The diagnosis of rabies should be done very carefully, since in the early stages it is often confused with certain mental diseases which are characterised by aggressive behaviour. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends Fluorescent Antibody Test (FAT), which is basically an immunohistochemistry procedure to detect rabies. Certain light microscopy tests are also effective in detecting the disease. Differential diagnosis should be carried out in order to rule out diseases caused by enteroviruses, arboviruses and herpesviruses.

 

How to treat and prevent Rabies?

Post-exposure treatment can prevent the disease within 10 days of exposure to the virus. Povidone-iodine or alcohol is usually recommended to reduce the spread of the virus. One dose of Human Rabies Immunoglobulin (HRIG) and four doses of rabies vaccine over a period of 14 days can help prevent the disease. The domesticated animals should be immunised on time and taken for regular checkups to a veterinary surgeon in order to detect diseases if any at a very early stage. This will considerably reduce the increasing global burden of zoonotic diseases.

 

Facts

  • Rabies can be acquired from both domestic and wild animals.
  • Almost 95% of all rabies cases are reported in Asia and Africa with 99% of these cases occurring as a result of dog-bites.

Facts

  • Almost 59,000 fatalities occur every year due to rabies.
  • Rabies can only be transferred from animals to humans, hence it is known as a zoonotic disease.

Facts

  • Almost 40,000 people worldwide receive PEP or post-exposure prophylaxis owing to the fact that they were bitten by a potentially rabid animal.
  • The annual number of dogs associated with rabies is 81, whereas in case of cats it is 300.
  • Wild animals such as skunks, raccoons, and bats are most commonly affected by rabies virus.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If you have been bitten by an animal, especially in regions with high risk of rabies, immediately wash the wound with soap and water. Visit a hospital immediately.
  • If you are visiting a country which has high rabies rates, consider getting an anti0rabies vaccination.
  • Vaccinate your pets against rabies. This is a sure shot way of preventing rabies.
Don'ts
  • Delay the treatment of rabies. It takes only a week for an unattended rabies patient to succumb to death.
  • Use tincture iodine on the wound. Use alcohol-based sanitizers or after-shave lotions to kill the virus.
  • Suture a rabies wound or apply external agents such as turmeric or plant juices. These will irritate the wound further and cause the viral infection to spread.

 

 

 

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alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
Cottage cheese: What can you find in this healthy chunk of fresh milk cheese? Love cheese but scared of putting on extra pounds? With cottage cheese, you can get the best of…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Tight phimosis ring
Phimosis Read to know everything about phimosis, types, symptoms, treatment, risks and prognosis for patients with this condition.
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…