Is Rabies Virus Fatal?
Rabies is a viral disease that attacks and destroys the nervous system. It is usually passed from one infected mammal to another through their bite.
Non-bite exposure to rabies, though incredibly rare can also happen. You can become infected by the rabies virus if the saliva from the infected animal comes into contact with an open wound, the mucous membranes and also if the infected animal scratches you. Though the saliva of Bats, Racoons, Skunks and Foxes can carry the rabies virus, it is the bite of a dog with rabies that is most common as dogs are responsible for 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans.
Rabies is usually fatal to humans once neurological symptoms have developed. The incubation period for the virus is typically four to twelve weeks. However, it can be as short as a week or as long as a year. The incubation period can also be affected by where you have been bitten; it will be shorter the closer the bite is to your brain. Therefore, a bite to your face or neck will likely be a shorter incubation period than if you sustain a bite to your leg or torso.
Symptoms of rabies.
There are also two types of rabies you can suffer from. Furious rabies and paralytic rabies. Symptoms of these two kinds differ significantly. With furious rabies, the person infected will become hyperactive and may start to display erratic behavior. Other symptoms of this type include hallucinations, anxiety, problems swallowing and insomnia. Furious rabies also happens at a much quicker pace than paralytic rabies and usually after only a few days with furious rabies the infected person will die from cardio-respiratory arrest.
In contrast to this, paralytic rabies happens much slower but like furious rabies the symptoms are just as severe, and death will almost always occur. This form of rabies will cause paralysis as the muscles around the initial bite wound or scratch will become paralyzed first, and the infected person will eventually fall into a coma. This form accounts for 30% of all rabies cases.
How to treat rabies?
If you are bitten by a dog, it is crucial to your health that you find out if that dog has been vaccinated against rabies. If the dog has not received all of its inoculations or if the dog is a stray you should seek medical attention immediately. Treatment is only successful in the beginning stages of rabies preferably received within 24 hours and no longer than seventy-two hours of being bitten and before you start to have symptoms.
Once you start showing signs of infection, the rabies vaccine is not effective, and death is almost certain. If you do seek medical care before symptoms develop you will be given what is called post-exposure prophylaxis. You will receive this multiple times, and this will help prevent the virus from spreading throughout your body.
In addition to this, you will also receive a dose of immunoglobulin, which will act as an antibody to the rabies virus. Immunoglobulin will provide protection immediately against the virus until the post-exposure prophylaxis starts to work. This vaccine will also keep you protected for approximately two years. You should also wash out the bite wound with soap and water immediately after you have been bitten. This step will help reduce the chance of contracting the rabies virus and may help save your life.
You can also minimize the chance of becoming infected with the rabies virus by staying away from dogs that have rabies. To do this, it is important to know what symptoms animals display when they have become infected with the virus. Though it may be hard to determine in the beginning stages if the dog that bit you is infected with the rabies virus because like humans, the incubation period for the virus can take 1-3 months. So the beginning symptoms can be very subtle and hard to determine. However, it is wise to follow the logic that if you are bitten by a dog, domestic or stray you should see your doctor immediately.
However, it is much easier to see symptoms if the dog has furious rabies. With this type, they will have a range of symptoms that are easily recognizable. From disorientation, dilated pupils, seizures, trembling and muscle in-coordination. If you encounter a dog with these symptoms, stay away from it and do not engage as the most prominent symptom will be aggressive behavior. A dog with furious rabies will attack anything that is moving and will have no fear of natural predators.
Dogs may also experience paralytic rabies and with this type, their symptoms will differ from furious rabies. They may have difficulty swallowing due to paralysis of the throat muscles and because of this paralysis they may begin to drool and foam at the mouth. A dog’s lower jaw may also drop. If you encounter a dog with these symptoms, like those with furious rabies stay away from it. Dogs with rabies will almost always die from the virus so you will not be able to save the animal you encounter you may just receive a bite for your efforts. Instead contact the authorities if you believe you have found a dog with rabies this will help to stop further contamination.
Therefore, the most important things to remember if you are bitten by a dog with rabies is to firstly, wash the wound immediately as this may help minimize the risk of the rabies virus. Secondly seek medical attention as the beginning stage is critical as this is the only time you can receive treatment, and it be a success. Also, if you have been bitten by a dog that is not a stray contact the owner of the dog to find out if the dog has received all of its inoculations, including the rabies vaccination. Finally, if you encounter a dog that you believe has rabies stay far away from it and contact the authorities.