Rabies (hydrophobia) is an acute viral disease characterized by damage to the central nervous system and ending fatally. Rabies is registered in 167 countries of the world, where annually more than 4 million people receive specific anti-rabies assistance as a result of animal bites and about 50 thousand people die from rabies. Over the past 10 years, 7 cases of rabies among people have been registered in Belarus, including in 2011, 2 cases.
Who is sick with rabies?
All warm-blooded animals are susceptible to rabies. Wild animals – wolves, foxes, raccoons, badgers and others are often sick. From them, with a bite, salivation, agricultural, domestic animals and people become infected. While between 1990 and 1999, on average, about 100 cases of rabies in animals were recorded annually in the republic, in 2011, 1337 cases of rabies in animals were recorded, including 278 cases among domestic dogs, cats, 52 cases among ownerless cats and dogs and 117 cases among farm animals. It should be noted that a healthy wild animal always avoids meeting with a person, therefore, the manifestation by a predator of unusual friendliness or expressed aggression should alert people.
Once again, I want to draw your attention to the fact that rabies are affected not only by wild carnivores, but also by domestic and agricultural animals.
How are they infected with rabies?
The virus from a sick animal is secreted by saliva. When bitten, the virus, along with saliva, enters the wound. No less dangerous is the saliva of a sick animal on the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth, nose, and also on the skin, where there may be damage that is not visible to the simple eye. You can become infected with rabies not only from a clearly sick person, but also from a healthy-looking animal, because 5–10 days before the clinical signs of the disease appear, rabies viruses may be present in the animal’s saliva. Wild animal bites are more dangerous than pet bites.
After implantation through damaged skin, the rabies virus reaches the central nervous system through the nerve trunks, and then goes to the periphery, affecting almost the entire nervous system. In the same way, the virus enters the salivary glands, secreting itself with saliva.
How does rabies occur?
In dogs, for example, the first signs of the disease appear 3-6 weeks after infection. The animal becomes lethargic, irritable, refuses food, water, does not respond to the call, does not listen to the owner. The dog becomes fearful, restless, finds no place for himself, whines miserably, is able to run away from home and silently, without barking, pounce on oncoming people and bite them. Toward the end of the disease, the tail and lower jaw sag in the dog, saliva liberates abundantly, and the gait becomes unsteady. There is another form of rabies in dogs – silent, in which all the signs of the disease are unclear, and people do not take precautions.
But what about rabies in humans?
For some time a person infected with rabies feels healthy, this is the so-called hidden or incubation period, i.e. the time that passes from the moment of a bite to a sick animal until the onset of the first signs of the disease. It usually ranges from 25 to 90 days, but can last from 15 days to 1 year or more. The duration of the latent period depends on the location of the bite (face or leg), the amount of the virus that got into the wound, the severity of the bite (with damage to the skin or not), the age of the victim (this age is shorter in children), and on the type of animal (the shortest period when bitten by a wolf) and the use of alcohol shortens the incubation period. The most dangerous injuries to the head, face and hands. All bites below the belt are less dangerous. The duration of the disease is from 3 to 8 days. Allocatethe prodromal period lasts 1-3 days. It is accompanied by fever up to 37.2 -37.3, depressed state, poor sleep, insomnia, anxiety of the patient. The pain at the bite site is felt even if the wound healed. Stage of excitement – lasts 4-7 days. It is expressed in sharply increased sensitivity to the slightest irritation of the senses: bright light, various sounds cause muscle cramps. Patients become aggressive, violent, hallucinations, delirium, a sense of fear appear. Stage of paralysis: ocular muscles, lower extremities, severe paralytic 6 respiratory disorders cause death.
What to do in case of negative contact with the animal?
In the case of a bite, soreness or scratching caused by any animal, you should immediately contact any medical institution for qualified assistance. If the medical institution is far away, immediately wash the wounds, scratches, abrasions, places with saline water and soap, treat the edges of the wound with iodine tincture and apply a sterile dressing, and local treatment of the wound does not in any way preclude the need for specific anti-rabies care . Timely and regular administration of the vaccine (6 injections over 90 days) during the latent period of the disease ensures the body’s immunity (immunity) to rabies and prevents the development of the disease.
Never kill or discard an injured animal. The fact is that in an animal killed at the beginning of the disease, it is very difficult to establish a diagnosis of rabies. However, the disease cannot be ruled out.
For animals injured, it is necessary to establish a 10-day veterinary observation and, if, after this period, the animal is healthy, then the course of rabies vaccinations can be stopped.