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Rabies: A Deadly But Preventable Disease

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Rabies is a deadly disease that’s responsible for at least 59,000 deaths every year worldwide!

World Rabies Day observed annually on 28th September aims to create awareness regarding this infectious disease that can have disastrous effects on the body which proves to be fatal every time once symptoms appear.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease caused by the Rabies lyssavirus and transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. It is a vaccine-preventable disease that causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord of mammals which almost always proves to be fatal.

Rabies is one of the few diseases that are untreatable. That means once an affected person becomes symptomatic, it will almost certainly result in death.

Animals like dogs, cats, bats, foxes, skunks, and raccoons infected by the rabies virus can spread it to humans and other mammals with their bites.

Once a person is bitten, the saliva enters the body through the skin and makes its way through the nerve cells to the brain. This results in inflammation of the brain and spinal cord leading to rapid deterioration, and death of the person.

What are the symptoms of rabies?

A person affected with the rabies virus may start developing symptoms after 2-3 months on average if vaccination is not administered.

However, this incubation period may vary from a week to a year depending on the location of the bite. The closer it is to the brain, the faster the virus can travel through the nerve cells and reach the brain.

Below are some of the major rabies symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypersalivation
  • Hydrophobia (Fear of water)
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Paralysis
  • Insomnia

Early symptoms of rabies can include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more, nausea, and headaches. As the disease progresses, symptoms start to worsen.

The infected person will start to feel agitated and confused. Most notably, rabies patients develop hydrophobia or the fear of water.

This fear is brought about by an inability or severe disability to swallow water which can cause spasms in the throat.

Excessive salivation, partial paralysis, and hallucinations are also common neurological symptoms that rabies patients may experience.

These symptoms are followed by breathing difficulties. The rabies patient may then slip into a coma followed by inevitable death.

Once the symptoms start to appear it’s already too late. There is no treatment for rabies other than supportive care. Chances of recovery are little to none and the disease has one of the highest mortality rates at 99.9%

Rabies prevention

The only way to prevent rabies is through the rabies vaccine. Timely vaccinations should be administered to affected patients to prevent the disease.

The good news is that the rabies vaccine is almost 100% effective if administered correctly and immediately.

Pets, especially dogs should also be given shots of the rabies vaccine to prevent transmission of the disease.

A series of 4 doses of the rabies vaccine are administered at regular intervals over 14 days to prevent the rabies virus.

Is the rabies vaccine available in Pakistan?

Yes. Rabies vaccine in Pakistan is available under different brand names including:

  • VERORAB – Manufactured by Sanofi Aventis and sold for Rs. 1,641 in Pakistan
  • LYSSAVAC-N – Manufactured by Hakimsons (Impex) (Pvt) Ltd and sold for Rs. 816.5 in Pakistan
  • RABIPUR – Manufactured by Novartis Pharma (Pak) Ltd and sold for Rs. 735 in Pakistan.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

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