Rabies a deadly disease: a must read article

Rabies is a deadly disease and it is spread through the animal bite such as the dog. It is caused by the infection of rabies virus Lyssavirus.

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Dr. J K Jha
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Rabies a deadly disease: a must read article

Rabies is a deadly disease and it is spread through the animal bite such as the dog. It is caused by the infection of rabies virus Lyssavirus.

The infection caused from this leads to encephalomyelitis i.e the inflammation of the brain as well as the spinal cord.

The transmission of the virus happens through the saliva and affects the CNS or Central nervous system.

This virus belongs to the family called Rhabdoviridae. It takes the shape of a bullet.

Causative animals such as dogs, rabbits, cats, fox vampire bats, monkeys etc carry this virus and transmit the disease to human beings. Approx 40,000 – 80,000 death per year worldwide.

Without early treatment, it is usually fatal.

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How the virus affect body

The virus can affect the body in one of two ways:

  • It enters the peripheral nervous system (PNS) directly and migrates to the brain.
  • It replicates within muscle tissue, where it is safe from the host’s immune system. From here, it enters the nervous system through the neuromuscular junctions.

Once inside the nervous system, the virus produces acute inflammation of the brain. Coma and death soon follow.

Types of Rabies a deadly disease

There are two types of rabies:

Furious, or encephalitic rabies: This occurs in 80 percent of human cases. The person is more likely to experience hyperactivity and hydrophobia.

Paralytic or “dumb” rabies: Paralysis is a dominant symptom.

Also read other article of this author: Malaria – Aeitiology & Symptoms

How is Rabies transmitted?

The below figure shows how the Rabies disease is infected by the virus:

The dog which is affected by rabies transmits the disease to the human through the saliva. This virus enters into the tissues of the human body and starts to multiply.

The transmission of disease sometimes might even happen by an animal to animal also.

After it has affected the tissues, the virus travels to the central nervous system through the spinal cord.

Then it reaches the brain and causes serious brain disorder called as encephalitis which in-turn causes a number of symptoms to arouse in the human body.

It causes the death of the person that’s why Rabies a deadly disease

There is an incubation period of about 3-12 weeks, later it progresses with various symptoms.

Pathology: Formation of “ Negri bodies” in the brain of causative animals is main pathology. Negri bodies has necrosed tissues  and live or dead viruses which is eosinophilic in nature.

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Symptoms

The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to the flu or acute infectious and may last for days. Later signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty in  swallowing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Fear of water (hydrophobia) because of the difficulty in swallowing. Calling the name ‘water’ provokes symptoms.
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Partial paralysis

Risk factors

Factors that can increase your risk of rabies include:

  • Traveling or living in developing countries where rabies is more common, including countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, including India.
  • Activities that are likely to put you in contact with wild animals that may have rabies, such as exploring caves where bats live or camping without taking precautions to keep wild animals away from your campsite
  • Working in a laboratory with the rabies virus
  • Wounds to the head or neck, which may help the rabies virus travel to your brain more quickly.

When to see a doctor ?

Seek immediate medical care if you’re bitten by any animal, or exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies.

Based on your injuries and the situation in which the exposure occurred, you and your doctor can decide whether you should receive treatment to prevent rabies.

Injections schedule

Take rabies vaccine immediately after the bites. Three injections are needed,

First injection immediately after the bite as preventive measure,

Second injection after seven days and

Third injection after one month.

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.

14 intra abdominal rabies vaccines are recommended for treatment with other palliative treatment. 

Prevention

To reduce your risk of coming in contact with rabid animals:

  • Vaccinate your pets. Cats, dogs and ferrets can be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Keep your pets confined. Keep your pets inside and supervise them when outside. This will help keep your pets from coming in contact with wild animals.
  • Protect small pets from predators. Keep rabbits and other small pets, such as guinea pigs, inside or in protected cages so that they are safe from wild animals. These small pets can’t be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Don’t approach wild animals. Wild animals with rabies may seem unafraid of people. It’s not normal for a wild animal to be friendly with people, so stay away from any animal that seems unafraid.
  • Keep bats out of your home. Seal any cracks and gaps where bats can enter your home. If you know you have bats in your home, work with a local expert to find ways to keep bats out.
  • Consider the rabies vaccine if you’re traveling. If you’re traveling to a country where rabies is common and you’ll be there for an extended period of time, ask your doctor whether you should receive the rabies vaccine.

Conclusion

  • Rabies is a viral disease that is nearly always transmitted by an infected animal bite.
  • Most common animals causing bites is Dogs.
  • Anyone who receives a bite in a geographical area where rabies occurs should seek treatment at once.
  • For treatment to be successful, it must be given before symptoms appear.
  • Symptoms include neurological problems and a fear of light and water.
  • Following the vaccination requirements for pets helps prevent and control rabies.
  • Govt. agencies help in endemic areas are important in controlling street dogs, cats, jackals, and bats ‘ bits. Supervise the dogs or other animals for their survival for 10 days if they survive 9 to 10 days there is maximum chances that affected human being is survived, if after the bite, rabid animal dies, there is remote chances of survival.

Author is Retd. Prof. of Pathology, NMCH Patna, Prof. of Pathology, VIMS Pawapuri, Nalanda Bihar, Prof. of Pathology, PDM University, Bahadurgarh, Prof. of Pathology  SIMS Anwarpur, Hapur, UP,

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