EGYPTIAN writings have documented the existence of rabies as early as 2300 B.C. and this ancient viral disease had claimed so many lives, and until this moment the whole world is still fighting this disease.
It was only in 1885 when rabies became a preventable disease after two French scientists Louis Pasteur and Emil Roux developed the fist rabies vaccine. Though it is preventable, rabies is still fatal and a major health concern in over 100 countries with limited access to health and veterinary system.
Here are some of the important information and facts from the World Health Oganization about rabies that could help everyone to understand the virus and to protect themselves and their pets from rabies.
1 Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear
Transmission of rabies is through the bites of rabid animals, usually dogs. When the virus is widely distributed throughout the central nervous system, the infection is fatal.
2 Rabies is hard to spot
According to apese.org, “the symptoms of rabies are very vague and typically mimic the side effects of other diseases and illnesses. People with rabies may have a fever, a headache, and a pricking feeling around the site of the wound. What causes the fatalities, however, is the fact that the brain and spinal cord becomes swollen. This leads to hallucinations, insomnia, and eventually coma.”
3 Rabies is present all over the world except Antartica
According to the World Health Organization, out of the 59,000 people who die from rabies every year, 99 percent of deaths occur in Africa and Asia.
4 Four out 10 deaths are in children below 15 years old
Everyone is susceptible to dog bites but because of the playful nature of children, and most of them lack awareness about rabies, they are more vulnerable.
5 Rabies is 100 percent preventable and there are two types of management using rabies vaccines
Though thousands of lives succumb to rabies, this disease is 100 percent preventable by vaccinating people. There are two types of management using rabies vaccines. – Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) – a preventative treatment before exposure to the virus. For PreP, a total of three injections will be administered. A week after the first shot, the 2nd shot will be given then the third will be 2 or 3 weeks later. – Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) – a treatment to stop the onset of rabies after exposure to the virus. There are several treatment regimen schedules. In government animal bite treatment centers that are accredited by the Department of Health, the Updated 2-Site Intradermal Schedule is used where 2 intradermal injections are given on days 0,3,7, and 28. In private hospitals and clinics, the Standard Intramuscular Schedule is more popularly used where 5 shots of intramuscular injections are given on days 0, 3, 7, 14, and 28 It is very important to consult right away with a doctor or a nearby animal bite center for proper animal bite management.
6 Disinfecting a Wound after a dog bite is important
The WHO recommends immediate cleansing of the wound after being bitten by a dog or other animals. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for about 15 minutes. Bite victims need to see a doctor to get a professional opinion about future treatment steps.
7 Education and awareness are essential to prevent bites of rabid animals
The Department of Health has a campaign to address this health concern. By spreading the needed information about rabies protection and raising awareness about responsible pet ownership, spread of rabies and animal bites can be prevented.
The collaboration of different sectors – from the national government down to barangays, pet owners, organizations, and all concerned sectors – must work together to achieve the goal of zero deaths from rabies in 2020.
8 Dog vaccination is needed
All pet owners must have their dogs and other pets that may be possible carriers vaccinated. Mass dog vaccination has shown that control of rabies is possible.
TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOU AND YOUR PETS
The americanhumane.org lists down several helpful tips that can protect you and your pets from rabies.
Always keep your pet’s rabies vaccine up to date. Puppies and kittens should receive their first rabies vaccination at 12 weeks of age. Pets must be vaccinated again in one year, and then a three-year rabies vaccine is generally administered during the rest of your pet’s life. Keep your pet’s rabies vaccination certificate in an accessible location.
If your pet bites a person or another animal, see a doctor and your veterinarian immediately. If your pet is bitten by another known domestic animal, consult your veterinarian immediately and ask the owner to provide proof of rabies vaccination. If the other animal is not up to date on his rabies vaccine, it is advisable to report the incident to your local animal control authority to ensure that the animal is quarantined appropriately.
If your pet receives a suspected bite wound from an unknown animal or if your pet comes in direct contact with any wild animal, even if no wounds are evident, consult your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian may recommend a rabies booster.
If you are scratched or bitten by any animal, either wild or domestic, consult your physician immediately. If the animal is a pet, ask the owner to provide proof of rabies vaccination.
Avoid animals displaying unnatural behavior. Animals that are unusually friendly or displaying other unnatural behaviors may have the rabies virus. Don’t let your pets roam or encourage them to interact with unfamiliar domestic or wild animals.
Feed your pets indoors. Leaving food outside often attracts stray dogs, cats and wildlife to your yard.
Animal-proof your trash. Make sure your trash lids are locked, and don’t leave bags of garbage outside the cans.
Report all stray animals to animal control. Stray animals may not be vaccinated for rabies. They also run a high risk of exposure to wild animals who carry the disease.
Give your child some guidelines to follow. Do not frighten young children, but make sure they learn some basic rules about protecting themselves from strange or unfamiliar animals.