Rabies is a viral infection caused by viruses belonging to the Lyssavirus genus. It is a zoonosis — an animal disease that can spread to humans — transmitted by saliva through bites and scratches of infected mammals. The infection primarily circulates among domestic, feral, and wild animals such as dogs, cats, monkeys, foxes, bats, raccoons, and skunks, although all mammals are at risk. The virus attacks the Central Nervous System targeting the brain and the spinal cord, and if untreated is fatal.
Rabies is present on all continents except Antarctica. The majority of human infections occur in Asia and Africa. Travellers coming into close contact with domestic animals or wildlife on ecotourism trips, or those undertaking outdoor activities like cave exploring, camping, trekking, and visiting farms or rural areas are at higher risk.
Rabies is also an occupational hazard for veterinarians and wildlife researchers. Children are especially vulnerable since they may not report scratches or bites. They should be cautioned not to pet dogs, cats, monkeys, or other mammals. Usually symptoms appear 1 to 3 months, although they can appear as early as a few days after exposure to the virus. The illness is characterized by fever and pain or a tingling sensation at the wound site.
As a result of inflammation to the brain and spinal cord, some patients present with anxiety, hyperactivity, convulsions, delirium, and have a fear of swallowing or drinking liquids, as well as a fear of moving air or drafts. In other patients, muscles become paralysed followed by a coma. Once symptoms are present, most patients die within 1 or 2 weeks.
Avoid contact with feral animals or wildlife. Seek medical attention immediately. A series of 3 pre-exposure rabies vaccination shots is advised for persons planning an extended stay or on work assignments in remote and rural areas, particularly in Africa, Asia, Central and South America.
The pre-exposure series simplifies medical care if the person has been bitten by a rabid animal and gives enough time to travel from a remote area to seek medical attention. Although this provides adequate initial protection, you will require 2 additional post-exposure doses if you were exposed to the virus. These two vaccines are interchangeable.
Topic Overview What is rabies? How do you get rabies?
What are the symptoms? How is rabies treated? What should you do if you think you have been exposed to rabies? How can you avoid rabies?
To avoid contact with the rabies virus: Have pet dogs, cats, and ferrets vaccinated against rabies. If you aren't the first owner of your pet, ask for a certificate of rabies vaccination. If no document exists, confirm with the pet's veterinarian that the pet got the vaccine.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain in humans and other mammals. Early symptoms can include fever and tingling at the site of. Rabies lyssavirus, formerly Rabies virus, is a neurotropic virus that causes.
Avoid contact with stray dogs, especially in rural areas of countries where rabies is a risk. Avoid contact with bats.
In Jackson, A. View mypetMD Content. Cushing's Syndrome: Classifying the Type. Domestic cats. What is Grass Hay for Horses?
Never touch or try to pet or catch a wild animal. Teach children to avoid these animals. Secure garbage and other items that attract animals.
Secure open areas of your home, such as pet doors, chimneys, unscreened windows, or any place that wild or stray animals could enter. Never handle a dead animal. Avoid any contact with its brain tissue. Frequently Asked Questions Learning about rabies: What is rabies? What increases my risk of getting rabies? I've been bitten or scratched by an animal. Do I need to see a doctor?
Getting treatment: Can a vaccine prevent the progression of rabies? What is an HRIG shot? Ongoing concerns: In what areas of the world does rabies occur? What types of animals most often have rabies? Does my pet need to be vaccinated, and if so, how often? When is it a good idea for people to be vaccinated against rabies before they've been exposed? World Health Organization. References Citations Plotkin SA, et al.
Rhabdoviridae: Rabies virus. In RD Feigin et al. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Human rabies prevention—United States Prophylaxis against rabies.
New England Journal of Medicine, — World Health Organization Rabies fact sheet. Accessed April 6, Use of a reduced 4-dose vaccine schedule for postexposure prophylaxis to prevent human rabies.
Jackson AC Rabies and other rhabdovirus infections. In DL Kasper et al. Compendium of animal rabies prevention and control, Willoughby RE Jr In RM Kliegman et al. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders. Previous Section: References Top of Page. Plotkin SA, et al. Human rabies prevention-United States New England Journal of Medicine, Learning about rabies:.
What is rabies?
Getting treatment:. Can a vaccine prevent the progression of rabies? Ongoing concerns:. In what areas of the world does rabies occur?