- Rabies occurs in more than 150
countries and territories.
- Worldwide, more than 55,000
people die of rabies every year.
- Dogs are the source of 99% of
human rabies deaths in undeveloped countries.
- Rabies is a preventable
disease. Wound cleansing and immunization within a few hours after contact
with a suspect rabid animal can prevent the onset of rabies and death.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a
viral disease affecting the central nervous system. It is transmitted from
infected animals to man and usually causes death once symptoms appear.
Who gets rabies?
(warm-blooded animals) including man are susceptible to rabies.
How is rabies spread to humans?
Rabies is almost always contracted by
exposure to a rabid animal. The exposure is nearly always through a bite,
but rabies can also be transmitted if a rabid animal scratches a person or
if its saliva comes into contact with broken skin. It is important to note that in
non-developed countries, dogs are the main source of the rabies virus,
however, in the U.S. and other developed nations, bats and wild animals
become the major concern due to an active vaccination programs for pets.
What are the symptoms of rabies?
Early symptoms may include irritability,
headache, fever and itching or pain at the exposure site. It is important to
note that by the time any symptoms appear, rabies often cannot be
successfully treated. Therefore, evaluation by a medical provider is
essential for anyone suffering from any kind of animal bite or scratch,
especially in deployed settings.
Is a human able to spread rabies?
Person to person transmission is extremely rare; however, precautions should
be taken to prevent exposure to the saliva of the infected person.
What is the treatment for an animal bite or scratch?
The most effective treatment to prevent
rabies or other infections is immediate and thorough cleansing of the wound
with liberal amounts of soap and water. All wounds should be evaluated by a
medical provider for risk of rabies. If warranted, the medical provider may
treat the patient with an injection of rabies immune globulin and begin a
rabies vaccine series.
How can I tell if an animal has rabies?
Often you cannot. Despite common belief that rabid animals are easily
identified by foaming at the mouth and aggressive behavior, infected animals
may not have any apparent symptoms or behave in an unusual manner. All bites
or scratches from animals should be evaluated by a qualified medical
provider in consultation with a veterinarian.
What should I do if an animal bites or scratches me?
Immediately clean the wound with large amounts of water and promptly seek
medical attention. Secure the animal if possible without sustaining any
additional injuries. The animal should be turned over to a veterinarian for
evaluation. A medical provider will evaluate the injury for rabies risk and
other potential infections. If your medical provider believes the risk of
rabies to be significant enough to treat, you’ll be given a series of
vaccinations over a two-week period. This treatment is extremely effective
but must be started as soon as possible after the injury.
For More Information:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)