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What is Rabies?

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans. It is caused by the rabies virus, which is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals. Rabies is a serious public health concern, especially in countries where the disease is endemic.



This is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals (warm-blooded animals that have fur or hair and produce milk for their young), including humans. It is caused by the rabies virus, which belongs to the Lyssavirus genus of the Rhabdoviridae family (a family of viruses that includes the rabies virus). The virus is typically transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, such as → dogs, cats, bats, and other wildlife. The virus infects the central nervous system, causing inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. This disease can be fatal if not treated promptly.

History of Rabies

Humans have known about rabies for thousands of years.  Ancient Greeks discovered and documented the first cases of rabies.  During the Middle Ages, people referred to rabies as the “wolf disease” because they believed that wolves were the primary carriers of the rabies virus. However, it was also known by other names such as “lyssa” or “madness.”

Louis Pasteur developed the first vaccine for rabies in 1885. Scientists initially administered the vaccine to a young boy named Joseph Meister after a rabid dog bit him.  The vaccine succeeded in preventing the disease from developing. Since then, people worldwide have used it to stop the spread of the disease.

Vaccines and effective treatment exist, yet this disease continues to pose a significant public health concern in numerous regions worldwide. Particularly in developing countries with limited access to vaccines and medical care.

In the next section, we are going to discuss the transmission of this disease.

Transmission of Rabies

This viral disease called rabies affects the nervous system and can spread to humans when infected animals transmit it through their saliva. While it can be fatal, rabies is also preventable through proper medical treatment.

How Rabies is Transmitted?

An infected animal typically transmits rabies through its saliva, often by biting or scratching. The virus travels through the peripheral nerves to the → central nervous system. On reaching there it triggers the inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The time of the incubation period for rabies is different for everyone. It ranges from a few days to several years. It depends on the bite’s location and severity. 

Animals that Commonly Carry Rabies

Certain animals commonly become infected with rabies, although any mammal has the potential to carry the virus. Dogs and cats can also carry rabies, although vaccination programs have greatly reduced the number of cases in domestic animals.

Risk Factors for Humans

Interacting with an infected animal poses a risk for humans to contract rabies. Factors that increase the risk of transmission include:

  1. Exposure to wild animals or strays, particularly in areas where this disease is endemic.
  2. Handling of bats or other animals that are known to carry rabies.
  3. Failure to properly vaccinate domestic pets.
  4. Living in areas with high rates of rabies infection.

Remember, rabies doesn’t spread when you casually come into contact with an infected animal, like petting or touching. It’s important to take medical attention immediately if an animal, especially if → it’s a wild animal or an unvaccinated pet bites or scratches you. Now, we are going to discuss the symptoms of this disease.

Symptoms of Rabies

This viral disease called rabies can pass to humans when an infected animal, like a dog, bat, or raccoon bites them. The virus attacks the nervous system which results in severe symptoms. It often has fatal symptoms if left untreated. It’s important to understand the early signs of rabies symptoms and seek medical attention immediately to prevent the virus from progressing.

Early Symptoms of Rabies

The early symptoms of this disease are similar to the flu or cold. They may include fever, headache, muscle weakness, and general discomfort. Sometimes, you might experience pain or a tingling sensation at the exact spot where you were bitten. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it can occur in some cases. These symptoms can last for several days before more severe symptoms appear.

Progression of Symptoms

As the virus progresses, more severe symptoms will appear. These may include anxiety, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, and paralysis. A person with rabies may also experience difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, hydrophobia, or fear of water. These symptoms may develop rapidly and turn life-threatening in just a few days after the symptoms begin.

Seeking Medical Attention Immediately

If you suspect an animal bite or exposure to rabies, you should immediately seek medical attention. You can stop the virus from spreading by treating it early with a series of shots known as post-exposure prophylaxis. These shots work really well when given before symptoms start showing up.

If you do develop symptoms of this disease, treatment is typically supportive, focusing on managing symptoms and preventing complications. However, once symptoms appear, the disease is usually fatal. That’s why it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you think you may have been infected with the virus.

After understanding the transmission and symptoms of this disease, we are now discussing the diagnosis and treatment of the disease:

Diagnosis and Treatment of Rabies

Rabies is a serious viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals. The disease can be fatal if not treated immediately. In this section, we will discuss the diagnostic tests and treatment options available for the disease.

Diagnostic Tests for Rabies

The diagnosis of this disease depends on clinical signs, symptoms, and laboratory tests. The most commonly used test is the direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) test. This test detects the virus in the tissues of the brain. Other diagnostic tests include virus isolation, PCR, and serology (a study of blood serum to diagnose and monitor diseases).

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) is a laboratory technique that allows scientists to make many copies of a specific segment of DNA.

Treatment for Rabies

If someone contracts rabies, there’s no cure for the disease. We can use treatment options to prevent the virus from spreading to the brain and causing symptoms. The first step in rabies prevention is to clean and disinfect the wound caused by the animal bite. The next step is to administer a series of rabies vaccine shots. The vaccine boosts our immune system to make it produce antibodies against the virus. Which also halts the virus from reaching the brain.

Importance of Prevention and Vaccination

Preventing rabies is much easier than treating it. The best way to prevent rabies involves vaccinating pets, particularly dogs and cats, and avoiding contact with wild animals. Vaccinating pets not only protects them from getting this disease but also reduces the risk of transmission to humans. If you get bitten by an animal, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. The doctor will analyze the risk of rabies which determines if you require post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). 

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a treatment that aims to prevent the growth of a disease. It is administered after exposure to the disease.

In the last section of this article, we are going to discuss the prevention and control of this disease:

Prevention and Control

Rabies, it’s a really serious viral disease that can kill you if you don’t get treated. But don’t worry, there are a bunch of ways you can do to stop this disease from spreading, like getting vaccinated yourself and making sure your pets get their shots. Being a responsible pet owner helps a lot too!

Vaccination for Humans and Animals

One of the most effective ways to prevent this disease is through vaccination. Both humans and animals can be vaccinated against rabies. Usually, humans receive the rabies vaccine through a series of injections after being exposed to the virus. Still, people at high risk of virus exposure, like veterinarians (trained professionals who specialize in providing medical care to animals of all kinds) and animal handlers are recommended to get vaccinated.

The law mandates that animals, including dogs and cats, must receive the rabies vaccine. The vaccination process typically starts at approximately 12 weeks of age and involves a series of injections. Subsequently, boosters are administered every one to three years, depending on the vaccine used and the regulations.

Importance of Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible pet ownership is another important way to prevent and control the spread of this disease. This includes:

  1. Ensuring pet’s up-to-date Rabies Vaccinations: As mentioned before, getting a vaccination is important in stopping this disease from spreading. Making sure your pets receive scheduled vaccinations and keeping them up-to-date is crucial.
  2. Controlling your pets: Always maintain control over your pets, whether you’re walking them or they’re in a fenced-in yard or kennel. Use a leash while taking them for a walk and ensure their security when you’re not present.
  3. Reporting stray animals: When you see a stray animal do not approach it. Instead, contact your local animal control agency or humane society to report it. They can take the necessary steps to safely capture the animal and test it for rabies.
  4. Avoiding contact with wild animals: Don’t go near or touch wild animals like bats, or skunks. If you do come in contact with a wild animal, make sure to wash the affected area with soap and water completely. Immediately reach out to your healthcare provider or local health department. 

In general, the prevention and control of this disease involve a mix of human and animal vaccination, along with responsible pet ownership. These measures help decrease the occurrence of this fatal disease and safeguard both ourselves and our pets.

Final Words on Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that seriously affects the nervous system. It can be fatal in most cases. It is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, such as → a dog or bat. The symptoms can be tough to diagnose in the early stages. But once they appear, it almost always leads to death. Everyone should be aware of the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of this disease as it is important.

A virus causes rabies, and it affects the nervous system. Normally, an infected animal bites humans and transmits the virus to them. The virus enters the body when we come into contact with the saliva of an infected animal. Then the virus finds its way to the brain. It causes inflammation and damage to the nervous system there. The symptoms of this disease might be fever, headache, muscle weakness, seizures, and more.

Awareness and prevention are crucial when it comes to rabies. The best way to stop this disease is by vaccination. Both humans and animals can receive vaccines to protect against this disease. Avoiding contact with wild animals, particularly bats, and seeking immediate medical attention if an animal bites you are crucial. Educating people about – the virus, the risks it poses, and the methods to prevent the spread of rabies helps decrease the number of cases.

Further Reading

We express our heartfelt gratitude to our readers for their unwavering support in engaging with the IntakeLearn article on the management of diseases. We will continuously provide significant information you can check articles like and .

For more information on this topic, you can check other sources:

  1. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/_Rabies
  2. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabies_vaccine
  3. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabies_in_animals

1 Comment

Akshay Sharma · June 2, 2023 at 1:07 am

I found the section on the rabies: causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention to be quite comprehensive. The article mentioned that symptoms can vary depending on the stage of the disease. Thanks for writing this kind of article.

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