Rabies: What should I do?

Rabies among humans can be prevented if promptly treated. It is vital to seek medical attention for any animal bites particularly from cats, bats, dogs and raccoons. In most cases, rabies can be acquired from scratches or bites by wild animals.

What should I do?

Once the symptoms of rabies start to manifest, the infection is usually deadly which is why it is vital to determine if an exposure occurred.

The ideal way to check for rabies is to capture the animal to have it tested. Any exposure to any wild animal such as a bite, scratch or transfer of blood or saliva into an open cut must be assessed by a doctor.


The initial signs of rabies strikingly resemble other infections and most feel that they have the flu.

If the animal is domesticated such as a cat or dog that does not appear sick, the animal must be contained and placed under observation for 10 days. Testing is not needed unless signs of illness arises. In such cases, if the animal is under observation, the individual does not have to start the rabies vaccine.

The treatment is post-exposure prophylaxis and given based on the type of animal and if it can be observed or tested.

What are the signs?

The initial signs of rabies strikingly resemble other infections and most feel that they have the flu:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Generalized feeling of being sick (malaise) that lasts for days after bitten

In case treatment was not sought after being bitten and the individual starts to experience flu-like symptoms, a doctor must be seen right away.

As the condition progresses, the symptoms start to affect the nerve and brain with symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Tingling or numbness at the bite site
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Neurological deficits

Management of rabies

The only first aid care for rabies is the same for all types of animal bites. Cleanse the wound thoroughly using water and soap. Remember that cleansing the wound is a vital step. In addition, povidone-iodine is also suggested if available.

The treatment after wound cleansing involves vaccinations. The doctor will explain the schedule of the injections needed.


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