Vaccination and Symptoms of Rabies

Rabies virus

Carried by animals to other animals or humans, rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system that can lead to death if not treated. This virus is called, Lyssavirus rabies; Latin: rabies, meaning, ‘madness.’ It enters the body through a puncture, i.e. bite, and is carried to the brain, (and other organs), through the nervous system. Once infected, the virus causes swelling in the brain, seizures and respiratory failure. The areas of the brain that is most affected is the hippocampus, limbic system, medulla and cerebellum.

The incubation period may take up to months, depending on where the bite occurred. However, once the central nervous system is affected with the virus, treatment is too late and death will occur in a matter of days. In some rare cases the saliva of an infected animal can enter the victim through an open wound. Tests are taken of the infected animal from the brain tissue to determine if the animal is infected. If the animal is unobtainable, treatment will be initiated as a safeguard.



Symptoms of rabies

Symptoms of rabies include: flu like symptoms in the first few days like headache, body aches and fever, nausea and loss of appetite.

Advanced stage includes behavioral changes such as: anxiety, confusion, agitation or delirium; unusual or bizarre behavior; labile mood; periods of mania; malaise; depression.

Late stages: difficulty swallowing, paralysis, violent movements and uncontrolled excitement; hydrophobia; inability to quench thirst, and respiratory insufficiency leading to coma and death.



Prevention of rabies

1. Home pets: dogs, cats, ferrets and farm animals, such as cattle, can be vaccinated.

2. Keep animals from wandering freely, especially in areas where wild animals roam.

3. Don’t handle wild animals or strays.

4. Report roaming animals in the neighborhood.


Rabies in Dogs

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Cats should be vaccinated to avoid getting rabiesDogs should have an annual rabies vaccinationWolves, and other wild animals, can be carriers of the rabies virus
Cats should be vaccinated to avoid getting rabies
Cats should be vaccinated to avoid getting rabies | Source
Dogs should have an annual rabies vaccination
Dogs should have an annual rabies vaccination | Source
Wolves, and other wild animals, can be carriers of the rabies virus
Wolves, and other wild animals, can be carriers of the rabies virus | Source

Rabies in dogs and other animals

Domesticated animals, such as dogs, cats and other pets, are usually not carriers of the rabies virus. However, dogs that run freely and are exposed to attacks by wild animals are subject to rabies. Animals within city limits are required by law to be vaccinated. This protects them and humans from the possibility of being infected.

In the United States, raccoons are the most common carriers of the rabies virus. Just recently, a local news station picked up a story of a man who had been chased by a raccoon in broad daylight. The raccoon jumped on the man’s back and would not let go. He finally rolled it off and sought help. The animal control officers managed to capture the raccoon and the gentleman started the series of treatments necessary to kill the virus.

Bats are the second greatest problem and many people are bitten during run ins with them while camping or surprising them in a dark enclosure. If you are bit or scratched by a bat, or suspect that you may have been, it is imperative to seek immediate medical treatment.



Rabies Vaccination

Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux developed the first rabies vaccine in 1885. This was a nerve tissue derived vaccine taken from infected rabbits. This method is still used in some countries because it is less expensive. In 1967 a human diploid cell rabies vaccine was developed, (HDCV). This drug goes by the name of Imovax Rabies. Later, a purified chicken embryo cell vaccine, (PCECV), became available. This drug goes by the name of RabAvert. Both of these are less costly.

Pre-exposure vaccination, for travelers and professional animal handlers, consist of three doses one week apart from each other. Post-exposure vaccination should get four doses: immediate, day 3, day 7, and day 14. A Rabies Immune Globulin, human, (HRIG), injection is also recommended to be given at the same time the first PEP injection is administered.



Contraindications of the rabies vaccine

Some medications do not mix well with the rabies vaccine. It is always important to give your doctor or health care provider a complete list of medications that you are taking. The following medications could have an adverse reaction and should be considered during the time of rabies treatment for optimal safety and results. These include: steroids, chemotherapy or radiation for cancer treatments, and inhalant or nasal steroids. Check with your pharmacist or physician for a complete list that may have contrary effects.


Side Effects of Rabies Vaccination

Some people may be allergic to the vaccination. This can cause serious problems such as respiratory difficulties, throat closure, dizziness or weakness, a rapid heart rate or hives. These symptoms should be treated immediately by calling a physician or transporting the person to a medical facility.

Common side effects include systemic reactions such as swelling, redness, itching in the area of the injection. Other mild side effects include general muscle soreness, head ache, dizziness and abdominal pain or nausea.

More severe problems such as fever, joint pain or hives have also been reported.

Infrequently, nervous system disorders, such as Guillain Barre Syndrome, (GBS), can occur.

Important: it is vital that the rabies vaccination is completed in its entirety in order to build up the necessary immunity.




Hydrophobia

Hydrophobia is a fear of water. When people are in an advanced stage of the rabies virus they can develop paralysis in areas of their body, such as their throat. This causes a difficulty in swallowing. The result is a fear that they will choke on water that is offered to them, despite the intense thirst. Between 50-80% of people develop this symptom. Treatment would include management of hydration through intravenous means.



Interesting facts about rabies

Animals that commonly carry the virus are: raccoons, bats, opossums, skunks, dogs, cats, wolves, foxes and monkeys.

In the last century human deaths have decreased from 100 per year to 2-3 per year.

Annually, 16,000-39,000 are exposed to potential rabies and receive post-exposure prophylaxis treatment, or PEP.

Rabies can be found anywhere in the world. Countries that have the biggest problems are: Asia, Africa, Central and South America.

It’s suggested that people be vaccinated prophylactically when traveling to these countries.

Over 55,000 people and millions of animals die from rabies throughout the world.

Infected dogs are the leading cause of the rabies deaths in Asia and Africa.

There were only 55 cases of rabies diagnosed since 1990 in the U.S.

World Rabies Day is held on September 28th of each year to raise awareness of this worldwide deadly disease. This is sponsored by W.H.O. and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.



Countries with most rabies virus

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B markerAfrica -
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C markerSouth America -
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D markerCentral America -
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Comments 22 comments

Kaili Bisson profile image

Kaili Bisson 4 years ago from Canada

Such an interesting Hub. Arctic form of rabies has gone way down here in Eastern Canada (eradicated I believe) because of a program to drop oral bait from bush planes.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois

Great hub with a lot of good info here. Raccoons can be vicious animals and it's good advice not to try to handle wild animals. Voted up useful and interesting


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

This is all very good to know! The only thing I knew about rabies vaccinations before reading this was that they're expensive and hospitals can sometimes be hesitant to give them out. Thanks for sharing all the info!


Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

Lots of helpful rabies information covered here. Since I live in suburbia, and my city is supposed to have a leash law, some dog owners still think they can set their dogs free to run whenever and wherever they want. After being attacked a few times while walking my dogs, I no longer walk my dogs in my neighborhood. Dogs are required to be vaccinated for rabies, but when a dog does not wear a collar or tags, I fear being bitten. A friend of mine was bitten by her neighbor's dog. Luckily, the dog was vaccinated for rabies, and she didn't have to go through the series of shots.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

Denise I could always count on you for delivering useful and helpful Hubs thanks so much Frank


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

Great information. I definitely learned a thing or two about rabies!


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

I didn't know all that about rabies. At my house, we have a couple of racoons that come around every night. Or, I should say morning because it is actually 2 a.m. when I see them. Yes, I am often up that late. :) Your sidebar explanation of hydrophobia is an interesting little fact to know. I like this hub.


Jlbowden profile image

Jlbowden 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

Denise:

Well-written and detailed summary of the rabies virus. This is a timely article reminder for all of us, especially those who have pet dogs. Dogs not only are required to get vaccinated against rabies by law as you mentioned, but also need to receive booster shots. And you just reminded me to take my dogs to the vet to get their boosters. Also it may benefit a majority of us to be more than careful when raccoons for example visit the yard. By reading all of the side-effects that can develop from the rabies vaccine you sometimes wonder is it really worth it? Just be careful out there!! Again thanks for sharing some very useful and interesting information which I also voted up.

Jim


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

A 98% reduction in human deaths due to treatment and vaccinations is a great improvement.

The vaccination side effects sound similar to the flu - I didn't realise you could get such symptoms from a killed or inactive vaccine (I had thought they were mostly symptoms from live vaccines, which the rabies shot isn't).

Great info!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Kaili-I know England also has eradicated rabies. But, I'm confused about your statement re: dropping bait. How did this help to eliminate the virus? Thanks.

Hi Danette-thanks for reading / commenting. Racoons are the second greatest problem for rabies, with bats being the first. I remember getting bats in the Mackinac Island dorm sometimes. Now that I know so much about rabies it is pretty discomforting!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Simone-I didn't know much about rabies until I started researching and couldn't believe the info out there. I guess the shots are quite expensive, true, but also necessary since the option is death, LOL

Hi Arlene-I get it about the leash laws, the dogs running free and the fear of getting bit-or your dog getting attacked. It is a real annoyance, to say the least!

Hi Frank-thank you so much for your feedback. I appreciate it. :)

Hi Cara-thanks for reading/commenting. I learned a lot also. Don't forget to vaccinate Charlie

Marlene-watch those pesky racoons-they are cute but not to be trusted, haha.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Jim-thanks for the great feedback. Funny thing, I was researching this and began to think of when Beauty's vaccination was due. That day I got a post card reminding us that her shots are due this month. :)

Hello nifwlseirff-thanks for your comments. I agree, it has been a great improvement. Yet, in some countries it is still very out of control. Thanks for reading and leaving some astute comments.


Anjili profile image

Anjili 4 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

A well researched hub. Useful to all. Thanks for sharing about this dreaded ailment. Voted up and useful


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hello Anjili-thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, it was an interesting and enlightening research. :)


ImKarn23 profile image

ImKarn23 4 years ago

BATS? this i did not know..when i was about 7, my sister's gf walked over - and a dog attacked her on the way. she showed up on our doorstep a MESS - i will never forget it! Probably 8-10 bite marks! I remember she had to have rabies shots in her stomach for - i think it was 10 days? i always remember her saying how painful it was and her stomach had a HUGE red lump on it! Better than dying...


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

It was interesting researching this topic and discovering how many countries still experience this as a huge problem. Recently there was an attack on a person by a red fox in a neighborhood in Virginia and they discovered that it had rabies. It is a weird subject, isn't it? Thanks for your comments.


ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 4 years ago from Lagos

Interesting facts. It is useful and well written. It made a great read. Good job!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks...it's good to see you. I'll have to pop into your hubpage as well...it's been too long. I'm glad to know you are doing great things.


ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 4 years ago from Lagos

Wow! Thanks, I wish you all the best.

Have a most wonderful day.

Thandi.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

You're welcome. Have a wonderful weekend. :)


Roger Duquette profile image

Roger Duquette 23 months ago from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Rabies is still a serious problem because a lot of people still don't vaccinate their dogs. Another great article on rabies is http://pet-quest.com/animal-health/dogs/rabies-dog...


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 23 months ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you Roger D. I appreciate the link.

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