Rabies is an infectious viral ailment transmitted to humans from animals. The disease is transmitted to humans from a rabid animal or one that carries the rabies infection. Skunks, raccoons, foxes and bats are the usual sources of animal-to-human transmission of the disease.
Rabies affects the brain and spinal cord. Even though the primary symptoms might strikingly resemble the flu such as headache, fever or chills, the infection can rapidly progress to hallucinations, agitation and paralysis and eventually death if left untreated. Once the clinical symptoms develop, the infection is considered always fatal.
The initial phases of rabies might feel the same as the flu. Nevertheless, if it progresses without proper treatment, the advanced symptoms will arise.
When bitten, the individual will experience flu-like symptoms such as:
- Irritation or itchiness at the site of the bite
Once the infection progresses, the symptoms include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Muscle spasms
- Itchiness or irritation of the bite site
- Tingling sensation or numbness
Immediate diagnosis and treatment are vital due to the rapid progression of the disease that can become fatal if not treated.
Remember that the bite itself can cause injury and these steps must be taken:
- Clean and sterilize the wound to prevent further infection
- The bite should be assessed for lacerations or nerve damage
These vaccines are routinely administered after a bite:
- Human rabies immune globulin
- Rabies vaccine
A single dose of the human rabies immune globulin and 4 does of the rabies vaccine are given on the day the individual was bitten and then again on days 3, 7 and 14. If the individual previously received post-exposure vaccines, only 2 doses are required. Additionally, a tetanus shot is needed if the last immunization was at least 10 years ago.