Rabies is an acute zoonotic disease of viral etiology that develops after a human bite to infected animals. The disease is manifested by a severe lesion of the central nervous system and fatal outcome. Rabies vaccine for a person bitten by a sick animal is the only chance to survive. Therefore, the vaccination should be done immediately.
Most cases of rabies development in patients are due to late application for specialized care, as well as violation of the recommended regimen during the period of preventive vaccination or completion of a specific immunization course.
Incubation period of rabies in humans
In most cases, the incubation period is from one to 3 months. However, in some cases, this period can be reduced to one week. The maximum incubation period for rabies virus does not exceed one year. If possible, an animal that has bitten the patient should be examined. The monitoring of the animal is carried out within ten days. At the same time, laboratory tests to detect rhabdoviruses in the animal are carried out. In case if negative answers to the tests are received and the animal remains healthy during ten days of observation, the prevention from rabies to the bitten person is stopped. In this situation, the beginning of administration of antirabies vaccines before the results of the study are obtained is justified by the fact that no rabies medication has been developed at the moment. The disease is characterized by absolute lethality. All treatment, if a person exhibits symptoms of rabies, is reduced only to relief until death.
How can I get infected?
Infection with rhabdoviruses occurs after a person bites an infected animal. Also, the infection can occur as a result of the infected saliva getting on the affected skin areas. In most cases, infection of urban residents occurs after a dog bite. Cases of infection after cat bites are much rarer. Infection can occur after a bite from any infected animal (bat, rat, squirrel, horse, fox, wolf, etc.).
Basic facts about rabies
Rural rabies accounts for 2/3 of all cases. This is due to the fact that residents of rural areas have a higher risk of being bitten by rabies than urban residents.
Most often, rabies is caused by bites of dogs, bats and cats. Outbreaks of natural rabies are usually associated with fox and wolf attacks. After a brush bite, the frequency of rabies is about seventy percent. The maximum probability of infection and rapid development with a minimal incubation period is in the neck and face area (more than 95 percent probability of infection). In children, rabies is more common than in adults. This is because children often play with homeless animals and may get petty bites that they do not report to adults. Bats are particularly dangerous at the moment. Therefore, it is strongly discouraged to try to catch a mouse flying into an apartment or a balcony with your bare hands. It should be noted that in countries where there are strict restrictions on the import of animals and introduced mandatory vaccinations for them, there is almost no rabies. Such preventive measures are common in Japan, Great Britain, etc.
Is rabies transmitted from person to person?
Rabies virus is transmitted from person to person only from an infected animal. When in contact with a bitten person, no virus transmission occurs. There are isolated cases of infection from a cornea transplant from a person who has died of rabies. In theory, virus transmission from a person with rabies in the terminal stage to another person is possible. However, to do this, the sick patient must not just bite another person, but also bite the skin. Or, the affected area of the skin (open wounds) should receive large amounts of saliva from the patient in the terminal stage of rabies. In practice, people suffering from rabies do not pose an epidemiological hazard. By airborne drops or kissing, rabies virus is not transmitted from person to person.