Rabies is a deadly disease that causes when humans or animals can get after being bitten by an animal infected with the rabies virus. Despite huge advancements in medical science, rabies is still fatal if vaccine shots are not taken on time and the symptoms start to show. However, rabies is completely curable with timely treatment.
While instances of rabies have been very few and far between in developed countries like the USA (55 cases in the last three decades), it is much more prevalent in the developing world especially in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America). In developing countries like the Philippines and India, stray dogs infected by rabies are the single cause of rabies. In developed countries like the USA, bite from wild animals such as raccoons and bats could infect a person.
What causes rabies?
A human can contact rabies under two circumstances. First, the person should come in contact with a rabid animal. Secondly, the person should come in contact with the saliva of the infected animal either through scratch or bite. The virus is transmitted through open wounds, cuts, or mucous membranes such as in your mouth, nose, or eyes. The virus will travel from the bitten part to the brain and from there to the whole body.
Rabies risk factors
The risk of rabies in a country like the Philippines can increase with traveling into areas frequented by stray dogs. People should seek medical help urgently if they are bitten by a dog, cat, horse, or any other mammals (animals that suckle their young).
Signs that the animal may contain rabies
Animals infected with rabies may appear aggressive, crazed, or vicious. There, however, have been instances where animals infected by the deadly virus appear normal and docile. How the animal behaves is also a good indicator of whether the animal has rabies or not. For example, nocturnal animals are seen during the day or wild animals appearing friendly should set the alarm bell ringing.
Signs and symptoms in humans
The average incubation period (the time from which the person is bitten to the time the symptoms are visible) greatly varies. Normally it ranges from 30-60 days but it can be as less than 10 days or the symptoms may take several years to show. Symptoms include fever, headache, chill, nausea, irritation—symptoms similar to those of the flu. However, the condition is likely to get worse with patients experiencing high fever, confusion, fear of water, irregular contractions, agitation, and ultimately coma and death.
Rabies vaccine treatment
First and foremost your doctor will give a shot of Rabies Immune Globulin (RIG), which is usually administered to prevent the spread of the virus. The injection is given nearest to the bite. After that, a series of shots (rabies vaccine) is given on days 3, 7, and 14 to enable your body to identify the virus so that it can fight it in a better way. People who have never been vaccinated against rabies should be given both HRIG and Anti Rabies vaccine.
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