Communicable Diseases
Rabies

​Summary:

  • It is a viral disease that is transmitted through the bites of mammals. 
  • The virus spreads to the central nervous system, then to all parts of the body.
  •  Once clinical symptoms appear, rabies is virtually 100% fatal.
  • Seek immediate medical care if you're bitten by any animal, or exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies:
  • The virus can be preventable if medical care was provided immediately, before the emergence of symptoms. 


Overview:
It is a viral disease that is transmitted through the bites of mammals, such as: Monkeys, foxes and others. However, dogs are the main source of rabies in humans. It is also transmitted from an animal to another, but not from a human to another. It becomes deadly once the symptoms appear. 

Other names:
Hydrophobia

Types:
  • Furious Rabies: Results in signs of hyperactivity and an excitable, aggressive behavior Hydrophobia (fear of water) and sometimes aerophobia (fear of drafts or of fresh air)
  • Paralytic Rabies: Muscles gradually become paralyzed, starting at the site of the bite or scratch. This type of rabies develops less intensely and takes longer than the first type. 

Cause:
Transmission of rabies can occur if saliva of infected animals comes into direct contact with human mucosa or fresh skin wounds.  
 
Transmission:
It can be transmitted either through a bite that results in a wound, or an open wound in the person’s skin becoming exposed to the virus. The virus first attacks the central nervous system, and then spreads to the rest of the body. The virus does not live for long when exposed to fresh air. It lives in the infected animal’s saliva, and then dies when the saliva dries. 

Incubation Period:
1-3 months. The incubation period might also range from one week to one year, depending on the site of the wound and other factors. 

Risk Factors:
  • Traveling or living in developing countries
  • Practicing activities like: Cave exploration;
  • Camping without taking precautions;
  • Having wounds in the head or neck.

Who is at the most risk?
  • Individuals who come into direct contact with animals (such as vets and zookeepers);
  • Individuals who come into indirect contact with animals (such as laboratory professionals);
  • People with weak immune systems;
  • People traveling to remote areas;
  • Sportsmen (such as mountaineers);
  • People with disabilities;
  • Children.

Symptoms:
  • Fever
  • ​Headache
  • Nausea
  • Pain or itching at the site of the injury
  • Poor sensation in the site of the injury
  • Inability to sleep
  • Increased saliva production
  • Fear of water or air
  • Hallucination
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Cramps and muscle tension

When to see a doctor?
Immediately after being bitten by an animal suspected to have rabies

Complications:
  • Respiratory paralysis
  • Coma
  • Death

Diagnosis:
  • Clinical diagnosis of rabies can be difficult unless there are signs of hydrophobia or anemophobia (fear of air). 
  • Laboratory tests: Human rabies can be confirmed either by viral antigens or nucleic acids present in the infected tissues (brain, skin, urine, or saliva).

Treatment:
There is no specific treatment for rabies; however, extensive washing and local treatment of the bite wound or scratch as soon as possible after a suspected exposure is very effective, alongside with treating other possible inflammations. 

Prevention:
  • Avoid contact with wild animals.
  • Take rabies vaccination before traveling.
  • Make sure pets are vaccinated.
  • Protect pets from aggressive animals and predators.
  • Report stray animals.
  • People who are vulnerable to rabies must be immunized.

Guidelines for treatment of people bitten by animals with rabies:
  • Wash your wound thoroughly with soap and generous amounts of water or with a disinfectant for at least 5 minutes. 
  • Protect eyes, nose, and mouth from any drizzle from the wound as you clean it. 
  • Use an antiseptic and bandage on the wound.
  • Seek medical care as soon as possible, even if you have received a vaccination in the past.
  • Get rid of the contaminated clothes.

FAQ:
  • How can I tell if an animal has rabies?
    • Because the disease affects the nervous system, most infected animals will behave abnormally.

Clinical Education General Department
For inquiries, contact us by email.





Last Update : 27 July 2020 02:25 AM
Reading times :

All Rights Reserved – Ministry of Health – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ©