How Is Rabies Transmitted?

Rabies is a condition that is always feared. It is known as Lyssavirus and involves mammals and their central nervous system. While this infectious disease hardly affects anyone in the United States, they do affect those around the world with around 50,000 deaths every year. The places where it is most common is countries that do not have a protocol to vaccinate dogs against rabies. With prompt treatment any problems can be eliminated.

How Is Rabies Transmitted?

There are several different ways that the rabies virus is spread, which include:

  • Animal bites – The most common way that rabies is transmitted is through a bite from a rabid animal to one who is not infected. The infection is passed along by saliva through the nerve cells all the way to the brain. Once it multiplies, it finds its way to the salivary glands.
  • Contact without a bite – Though this type of transmission is not very common, rabies can be passed along through open wounds, scratches or abrasion, or membranes that carry saliva that has been contaminated with other infectious ways like the brain tissue that has come from an animal that has rabies.
  • Person to person – This way of catching or transmitting rabies is very rare. The only cases that showed documentation of rabies being transmitted from one person to another was through transplanted organs and corneas.

How to Stop the Transmission of Rabies

Now you know "How is rabies transmitted?" it is time to learn the precautions to take to prevent the spread of rabies. Pet owners have been given suggestions for protecting their pets and it’s important for people to be aware of what a rabid animal looks like so they can avoid this situation at all costs.

Below are some other ways to prevent the further spread of rabies:

  • Make sure pets receive the rabies vaccine.
  • Pet owners keep their pets inside as well as watch over them if they go outside.
  • Rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals should stay protected in cages against wild and possibly rabid animals.
  • If you see any stray cats or dogs, make sure you report it to authorities.
  • Remember that wild animals are not friendly or domesticated. Do not try to make friends with them.
  • Consult a professional to keep bats from getting into your home. If you have them already, take precautions to get them removed.
  • If you are going to a country where the spread of rabies is a common occurrence, check with your doctor about getting the vaccine.
  • Pet owners should make sure that their animals’ shots are up-to-date.
  • If your pets are not already spayed or neutered, make an appointment to do so in order to cut down on unwanted pets.
  • Make sure you inform children not to approach animals that they are not familiar with.
  • If you do become bitten by an animal, make sure that you wash out the bite with soap and water thoroughly (about 5 minutes). Get medical attention immediately and let the local health authorities know about the bite.

How to Tell If You're Infected with Rabies

Knowing "How is rabies transmitted?" is not enough, you should also pay attention to the possible symptoms so as to seek medical help in time. You could have a rabies bite but not show any symptoms for up to a year. One of the first definitive signs is tingling around the area of the bite. Additional symptoms include a headache, loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, and fever. Symptoms that show up as time progresses are:

  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Spasms
  • Convulsions
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Selective paralysis
  • Problems speaking
  • Light, sound, and touch sensitivity

Advanced symptoms of rabies include:

  • Facial paralysis
  • Problems breathing, including control of the muscles that work the diaphragm
  • Problems swallowing
  • "Foaming at the mouth" caused by an increase in saliva
  • Vision problems

What Can Be Done?

While there is not a definite treatment for getting rabies if you don’t get something done right away, you could possibly die from this disease. There is a treatment that you will need to face in order to keep this virus from making you violently ill.

If someone has been in contact with an animal that has definitely been identified as having rabies, they will have to undergo a series of painful shots to prevent the spreading of rabies. If it is not known if the animal has rabies and you have no way of locating it, you may have to operate as if the animal does have rabies. But you may have to take into consideration elements such as how the bit occurred and what kind of animal it was.

Here is what you can expect from rabies shots:

  • Rabies immune globulinThe shot acts immediately to keep the virus from transmitting the disease to you. The shot is administered as quickly after the bite as possible and as close to the site of the bite as can be maneuvered.
  • A series of rabies shots made up of four doses that are given over a period of 14 days. The shots help your body to recognize the rabies virus and fight this disease.
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