Rabies is a life threatening disease that has no cure once it reaches the last stage of its infection; an animal and a person will die, if not treated immediately. Rabid animals may transmit the virus through their bite.
The Phases of Rabies
An infected animal will go through three stages of rabies, these are:
- The first stage is a one to three day period characterized by certain behavioural changes, this phase is prodromal stage.
- The second is the excitative stage, which may last between three to four days. This is the phase often known as furious rabies because of the tendency of an infected animal to act hyper reactive to stimuli and bite at almost anything nearby.
- The final stage is the paralytic phase, caused by the virus’ damage to motor neurons. An infected animal will experience incoordination because of rear limb paralysis, and the paralysis of throat and facial muscles cause drooling and difficulty in swallowing. This damage disables a victim’s ability to swallow, which results in saliva to pour out of the mouth. The virus is primarily found in the cheeks and throat, which contaminates the saliva. This is the reason bites are the most effective way to transmit the disease.
An infected person or animal usually dies of respiratory arrest.
How Can You Get Rabies?
The rabies virus primarily contaminates saliva that is why bites from an infected person or animal are the likely mode of transmission. Saliva of the infected that comes in contact with open wounds or the mucous membrane may also result in an infection.
Rabid dogs, skunks, bats and other small mammals may transmit the disease. Once you see an animal acting peculiar or aggressive, there is a possibility that they have the virus. Knowing the signs of rabies will help you know how to deal with an infected animal.
Signs of Rabies
The period between the bite and the onset of the signs of rabies is the incubation period, this may last four to 12 weeks. The initial onset of the disease starts with symptoms similar to the flu, these include:
- Muscle weakness
- Burning at the bite area
As the virus damages an infected person’s central nervous system, he or she may develop two types of the illness, these are:
Persons with this type display excitable and hyperactive behaviour, other signs are:
- Excess salivation
- Problems swallowing
- Fear of water
This form takes longer to display its symptoms, but its effects are just as severe as furious rabies. An infected person becomes paralyzed slowly, will eventually enter a coma and dies.
Knowing the symptoms, types and causes of rabies will enable you to prepare and protect yourself, if ever you encounter an infected animal.
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