Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite.
The Animals that usually transmit rabies in the United States include bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks. In developing countries of Africa and Southeast Asia, stray dogs are the most likely to spread rabies to people.
Symptoms and signs in human
After the first exposure in most people, an animal bite, the symptoms of itching or discomfort like pins or needles pricking the skin occur at the bite area. In addition, the person may develop fever and a headache. Investigators suggest these symptoms may last from about two days to weeks. This is the acute phase or the acute incubation phase of the disease. Unfortunately, there is another incubation period before the next set of signs and symptoms develop. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that the average latent incubation period is about three to seven weeks, although they do report a range from seven days to 10 years, with the longer time periods occurring infrequently. The symptoms and signs of rabies in humans may consist of some or many of the following according to the CDC and NIH:
Anxiety, stress, and tension, Delirium, drooling, convulsions, exaggerated sensation at the bite site, excitability or combativeness, hallucinations, loss of feeling in an area of the body, and loss of muscle function and much more.
Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal. For this reason, anyone who may have a risk of contracting rabies should receive rabies vaccines for protection.
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical care if you’re bitten by any animal. Based on your injuries and the situation in which the bite occurred, you and your doctor can decide whether you should receive treatment to prevent rabies.
Even if you aren’t sure whether you’ve been bitten, seek medical attention. For instance, a bat that flies into your room while you’re sleeping may bite you without waking you. If you awake to find a bat in your room, assume you’ve been bitten. Also, if you find a bat near a person who can’t report a bite, such as a small child or a person with a disability, assume that person has been bitten.
There is no treatment. Once the disease develops in humans, death is almost certain. Only a handful of people have survived rabies after extremely intensive medical care. There have been several reported cases of dogs surviving the infection, but they are very rare.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection and properly vaccinated animals stand very little chance of contracting the disease. There is a series of vaccines that can be used to vaccinate people at high risk. There are some vaccines available for large animals also.
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