Rabies, an Incredibly Dangerous and Lethal Virus

Rabies is a virus that causes acute inflammation of the brain in warm-blooded animals

Rabies is a virus that causes acute inflammation of the brain in warm-blooded animals. This virus is Zoonotic, which means that is can be transmitted by animals to humans. Usually rabies is transferred from the bite of an infected animal. However, being bite is not the only way to become infected; simply getting the saliva of an infected person or animal into your eyelids, nose or mouth can be enough to contract the disease.

Once the disease is first contracted, symptoms the resemble influenza appear and can last from about two to twelve weeks. However, there have been cases where these symptoms have lasted as long as two years. After the period of influenza like symptoms passes, the disease progresses and many of the symptoms become neurological. They include slight paralysis, brain dysfunction, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation and aggression. Abnormal behaviour, paranoia, terror, hallucinations, delirium and large quantities of saliva and tears plus the inability to speak or swallow is also seen.

During the latter stages of the disease, rabies can progress in two different ways. There is dumb rabies, which is mostly paralysis and confusion, or furious rabies which mostly has the symptoms of hyperactivity and aggression. Coma and then death are the last stages of rabies. There are rare cases of people surviving rabies without medical intervention, but sadly, they were left with severe brain damage from it.

Rabies is found across the globe. Around fifty five thousand people die every year from it. About 95% of human deaths from rabies occur in Asia and Africa. Most of these deaths come from infected dog bites. Sadly, around 30% - 60% of victims of these dog bites are children under the age of fifteen. Rarely is a human infected with rabies by a wild animal such as wolves, jackals or skunks, most rabies come from dogs, cats and bats.

Rabies thankfully is curable in its early stages, usually from first contact of the virus to the period of influenza. However, the latter stages of rabies are incurable and there is a 99% chance of death. The few who survive suffer severe brain damage. The majority of rabies cases occur in Asia and Africa, this is because most of their dogs and cats are feral and their government does nothing to vaccinate them. The mortality rate for people contracting the disease is very high in these two areas as sadly, they are poorer countries and many of the citizens cannot afford to go to the hospital to get medical help when bitten.

Rabies is an incredibly dangerous and lethal virus. If there is the slightest chance you may be infected it is important you seek medical help immediately. If possible, the animal in question should be captured and brought to the proper authorities for tests. Rabies is curable in its early stages but sadly, not when it has progressed past the influenza stage. Time is crucial in obtaining a full recovery.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabies

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/

http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/rabies.html

http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/

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