Know the basics
What is rabies?
Rabies is a serious infection caused by rabies virus. You can get infected with the virus after being bitten by an infected animal such as skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes as well as stray dogs (lost or abandoned dogs). Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies and left untreated, the disease is nearly always fatal. For this reason, anyone who suspect of having rabies should get immediate medical treatment.
How common is rabies?
People living in remote areas, where the vaccines are not available immediately when they have been bitten. Rabies can occur at every ages but is most common in children below 15 years old, people work in laboratory that frequently expose to rabies virus. Besides, high risk groups also include children living in areas vulnerable to rabies, people traveling in remote areas, where rabies is underdeveloped.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of rabies?
The time from infection with the virus to first symptoms averages 35 to 65 days. First symptoms may be similar to the flu. Some signs and symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Loss of appetite.
Other signs can include pain or numbness in the bite site may last for the first 3 to 4 days. Shortly after nervous system symptoms occur, including being agitated and restless with extreme hyperactivity, with bizarre behavior and calm periods. Hallucinations muscle spasms, and paralysis may also occur. The fear of water (hydrophobia) occurs during this stage.
Unfortunately, if rabies isn’t treated soon after exposure, it almost always leads to coma, convulsions and death, usually by the 4th to 7th day after onset of symptoms. There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
Seek immediate medical care if you’re bitten by any animal, even a pet. Based on your injuries and the situation in which the bite occurred, you and your doctor can decide whether you should receive treatment to prevent rabies.
Even if you aren’t sure whether you’ve been bitten, seek medical attention.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes rabies?
The cause of rabies is the virus named rhinovirus in saliva of infected animals. Infected animals can spread the virus by biting another animal or a person. In rare cases, rabies can be spread when infected saliva gets into an open wound or the mucous membranes, such as the mouth or eyes. This could occur if an infected animal were to lick an open cut on your skin.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for rabies?
Factors that can increase your risk of rabies include:
- Traveling or living in developing countries where rabies is more common, including countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.
- Activities that are likely to put you in contact with wild animals that may have rabies, such as exploring caves where bats live or camping without taking precautions to keep wild animals away from your campsite.
- Working in a laboratory with the rabies virus
- Wounds to the head, neck or hands, which may help the rabies virus travel to your brain more quickly.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is rabies diagnosed?
The animal that bit you need to be captured to test for rabies. At the time a rabid animal bites you, there’s no way to know whether the animal has transmitted the rabies virus to you. For this reason, treatment to prevent the rabies virus from infecting your body is recommended if the doctor thinks there’s a chance you have been exposed to the virus.
How is rabies treated?
If you were bitten by a rabies infected animal, the bite wound should be cleaned immediately with soap, water and an antiseptic such as povidone-iodine. Then, you will be given a series of shots to prevent the rabies virus from infecting you. There are two types of shots. One shot being a fast-acting injection near the animal bit to prevent the rabies infection, which consists of rabies immune globulin and the second type of shot is at least 4 shots over a course of 14 days. The second type of shot are injections in the arm to help your body identify the rabies virus and learn how to fight it. If the animal that bit you was caught, it will be examined. If no rabies is suspected, then you may not need the second type of shot. You should talk to your doctor for more information.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage rabies?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with rabies:
- Visit your doctor regularly to keep track on the progress and your rabies;
- Follow doctor’s instruction;
- Take care of your teeth. Brush and floss and see your dentist regularly;
- Change your diet. Use moderate salt restriction salt restriction (don’t add salt to your food);
- Maintain a healthy weight;
- Cut back on caffeine;
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 253.
Porter, R. S., Kaplan, J. L., Homeier, B. P., & Albert, R. K. (2009). The Merck manual home health handbook. Whitehouse Station, NJ, Merck Research Laboratories. Page 757.
Rabies. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/. Accessed July 7, 2016.
Rabies. http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/symptoms/index.html. Accessed July 7, 2016.
Rabies. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rabies/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20019900. Accessed July 7, 2016.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017