Rabies is a serious viral infection that affects the brain and the nervous system. One can acquire rabies if bitten by an infected animal and was not vaccinated. Remember that it is almost fatal once the symptoms develop, but can be prevented if treatment was promptly started after exposure.
When to seek medical care
It is vital to seek medical care if worried that an adult or child has been bitten, licked or scratched by an animal. Even though rabies is not likely, it is also important to seek medical care if gnawed or scratched by an animal that travelled overseas and has a vague vaccination history.
If bitten or scratched, the following should be done:
- Cleanse the wound thoroughly using soap and water under running water for 15 minutes.
- Apply alcohol or an antiseptic to clean the wound.
- Leave the bite site open.
- Bring the individual to the nearest healthcare facility.
How does rabies spreads
Rabies affects humans via a bite from sick animals as well as a graze or lick to damaged skin, the eyes or the mouth. One is also at danger if an animal spits in the face. In rare instances, rabies can spread during an organ transplant.
As it enters the body, the virus multiplies before it spreads into the nerve endings. It later on travels to the spinal cord and the brain. Once the virus is in the central nervous system, it rapidly multiplies and spreads to the lungs, salivary glands, kidneys and other organs.
What are the indications?
It usually takes a while for the symptoms to manifest but once they do, the condition is almost always deadly. The symptoms among humans can include the following:
- Light sensitivity
- Irrational fear of water
- Fear of air drafts
- Aggressive behavior or confusion
If an individual has been exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies, it is vital to seek medical advice to determine if a course of treatment is required to prevent rabies. Take note that this is called as post-exposure treatment.
This should be done before any of the symptoms develop. Once the symptoms develop, the infection could no longer be treated and almost always deadly.
There are vaccines that can be used to prevent rabies from developing. Routine vaccination is only recommended if working regularly with potentially infected animals or travelling to an area where there are reported cases of rabies and limited medical care.