What you need to know about the rabies virus

What you need to know about the rabies virus

Monday 28 September marks ‘World Rabies Day’. Here is what you need to know about the deadly virus and how to prevent contracting it.

Rabies/ iStock

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 59,000 people die from rabies each year.

Rabies is a contagious viral disease that is transmitted through an animal’s saliva to humans. This can happen when you get bitten by a rabid infected animal.

It affects the brain and gets worse over time. This is why it is important that if you have been bitten or exposed to an infected animal, you seek medical help urgently. 

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A person who suffers from rabies can show any of these signs:

- Fever

- Aches and pains

- Hallucinations

- Anxiety

- Agitation

- Hydrophobia

- Tingling at the wound site

- Insomnia

- Pro-longed salivating

- Respiratory problems

- Heart deteriorating

- Seizures

The good news is that the disease is preventable. However, you have to consult a doctor as soon as you have been bitten by an infected animal, even before the symptoms show. Once you show symptoms, it is almost 100% deadly with only a few exceptions. But, consulting as soon as you have been bitten increases your recovery rate by 100%.

How to prevent rabies from taking your life

- It is important to vaccinate your pets against rabies and ensure the vaccination is always up to date. This will help protect the animal and yourself.

- You also need to get vaccinated. This will help prevent the virus. The rabies shot is like any other vaccination you might get to prevent disease.

- If you have been bitten, a health practitioner will give a post-exposure treatment.

- Be careful about handling animals. No matter how healthy an animal might look, know that it might be infected. So, ask first if its vaccination is up to date. Also, do not touch a bat that you see in your home. Contact your local animal control officer to help remove it.

- If you are bitten, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and then rush to the doctor. 

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Image courtesy of iStock/ @ jarun011

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