Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Help Prevent and Control Rabies

By Diane Forrest, RN


September 28 is World Rabies Day, a global health observance that seeks to raise awareness about rabies and enhance prevention and control efforts. World Rabies Day has been celebrated in countries throughout the world, including the U.S.

World Rabies Day is an excellent time to take steps that can help prevent and control rabies, such as vaccinating pets including dogs and cats and providing education on how to avoid the animals that typically transmit rabies: raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes.

Rabies is a deadly viral infection that is mainly spread by infected animals, human rabies have been linked to bats and raccoons.  There have been no reports of rabies caused by dog bites in the United States for a number of years due to widespread animal vaccination.  The actual time between infection and when you get sick (called the "incubation period") ranges from 10 days - 7 years. The average incubation period is 3 - 7 weeks.

Symptoms of Rabies:
  • Anxiety, stress, and tension
  • Drooling
  • Convulsions
  • Exaggerated sensation at the bite site
  • Excitability
  • Loss of feeling in an area of the body
  • Loss of muscle function
  • Low-grade fever (102 degrees F or lower)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Pain at the site of the bite
  • Restlessness
  • Swallowing difficulty (drinking causes spasms of the voicebox)
  •  

Tests:
  • If an animal bites you, try to gather as much information about the animal as possible. Call your local animal control authorities to safely capture the animal. If rabies is suspected, the animal will be watched for signs of rabies.
  • A special test called immunofluorescence is used to look at the brain tissue after an animal is dead. This test can reveal whether or not the animal had rabies.


Treatment:
  • Clean the wound well with soap and water, and seek professional medical help. You'll need a doctor to thoroughly clean the wound and remove any foreign objects. Most of the time, stitches should not be used for animal bite wounds.
  • If there is any risk of rabies, you will be given a series of a preventive vaccine. This is generally given in 5 doses over 28 days.
  • Most patients also receive a treatment called human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG). This is given the day the bite occurred.


Prevention:
  • To help prevent rabies:
  • Avoid contact with animals you don't know.
  • Get vaccinated if you work in a high-risk occupation or travel to countries with a high rate of rabies.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines by 4 months of age, followed by a booster shot 1 year later, and another one every 1 or 3 years, depending on the type of vaccine used.
  • Follow quarantine regulations on importing dogs and other mammals in disease-free countries.

For more information click on this site:  http://www.cdc.gov/worldrabiesday/

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