Rabies is caused by a virus which attacks domestic and wild animals such as dogs, cattle and yellow mongooses.
The rabies virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected animal.
Effects on Humans
* An incubation period of 1-60 days may occur where the person who has been bitten shows no signs and symptoms of rabies.
* Onset of the illness may occur after the incubation period. Symptoms that may occur include headaches, fever, sore throat, nausea, diarrhoea and fatigue. Note that those symptoms do not necessarily mean the person has rabies, since they may occur because of other diseases as well.
* During the acute neurological or agitation phase, the infected person may run about, undergo convulsive seizures, produce large amount of saliva, show a fear of water (hydrophobia) and have difficulty in swallowing and breathing.
* Death may occur 1-10 days from onset of the illness due to heart failure, breathing difficulties or seizures.
Vaccinations againts Rabies
People who work in veterinary clinics and animal welfare organisations should be immunized by taking a vaccine against the rabies virus. They should also wear protective clothing, including gloves, when working with animals.
Treatment on Exposure
People who have been exposed to the rabies virus by being bitten or scratched by a rapid animal should be treated immediately by a qualified medical practitioner.
Treatment includes washing the wound thoroughly and a course of vaccination.
Treatment of Rabies
Once a person shows signs of the disease, there is no effective treatment. The person should be made as comfortable as possible.