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Rabies: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, And More.

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What is Rabies?

Rabies is a deadly acute viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is usually transmitted to man by saliva through bites or scratches from infected domestic or wild animals. In up to 99 percent of rabies cases, the virus stays transmitted by domestic dogs.


It is a disease that affects different domestic and wild animals; infection in humans occurs through bites and scratches.

Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality warn that: “any other contact with a species sensitive to rabies, such as, for example, a deep scratch with bleeding and a lick on skin and mucosa and in a place where rabies remains present must stay treated with caution. In developed countries, transmission normally occurs through dog bites ”.

Although the possibility of person-to-person transmission exists, it is yet to be confirmed. It is also rare, but it can be the case of transmission through the transplantation of infected organs or inhalation of aerosols containing the virus, as indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Likewise, it is pending to confirm transmission through ingestion of raw meat or other tissues of infected animals.

In Asia and Africa, in added than 95 per cent of cases, dogs are the transmitters of rabies.

In North and South America, Australia, and Western Europe, bats are the primary source of rabies infection. Regarding human mortality due to contact with foxes, skunks, raccoons, jackals, mongooses, or other infected wild carnivores, the WHO indicates that these are rare cases.


The clinical manifestations can vary depending on the different forms that the disease takes. Generally, the incubation period for rabies is usually one to three months; although it may range from less than a week to more than a year, this will always depend on the infected site and the viral load.

Among the most common symptoms are:

  • Swelling or redness
  • General malaise.
  • Usually, among the first manifestations is fever.

Among the different forms that the disease can take, furious rage can present signs of hyperactivity, excitement. Sometimes even aerophobia. Death can occur within days due to cardiorespiratory arrest.

In the other form, paralytic rabies, which accounts for 30 per cent of human cases, according to the WHO, follows a different course, although generally longer in the condition of furious rage. Here the muscles are slowly paralyzed, starting with those closest to the bite or scratches until the patient drives into a coma and ends up dying.


According to the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality and Equality, and corroborated by the WHO, the best way to prevent rabies is through preventive human immunization, getting vaccinated, and administering the vaccine.

In case of traveling to risky places, the Ministry recommends being vaccinated one month before the exhibition. It also advises that the ideal area where the vaccine should stay administered is the deltoid area; however, in children, the most advisable part to vaccinate is the anterolateral part of the thigh, never in the gluteal region. The Ministry advises against this area because it can create lower neutralizing antibodies.

Finally, experts warn that people who have contraindications to the vaccine. Specifically, those who have presented some hypersensitivity to previous doses. It is preferable not to administer it.


Rabies does not have a type classification.


According to the WHO, there are currently no tests available to diagnose rabies infection in humans before clinical symptoms appear.

Different techniques confirm rabies in life and postmortem that allow the detection of the actual virus, viral antigens, specific antibodies present in the cerebrospinal fluid, or nucleic acids in infected tissues (brain, skin) also in urine and saliva.

Although the incubation period for rabies is typically one to three months, it can range from less than a week to more than a year, depending on factors such as the injection location and the viral load, as indicated by the WHO.


The first recommended treatment is to thoroughly wash the wound for a minimum of 15 minutes with soap and water, povidone-iodine, or other substances that kill the rabies virus.

After exposure, prophylaxis causes the infected person’s treatment to start immediately to prevent the virus from entering the central nervous system, which would cause immediate death. Treatment includes the rabies vaccine and the application of rabies immune globulin when indicated.

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