Rabies is an infectious viral disease, which spreads through the saliva of an infected (i.e., rabid) animal to other animals or humans. The possible means of transmission, of rabies are animal bites or exposure of an open cut to the medium that contains the virus of rabies. In case of an infection, it is highly important to treat the infected person, and negligence in such cases can cause a painful death.
As discussed above, animal bite is the single most prominent reason for the spread of rabies in humans (via their pets or wild carnivores). Rabid cats, dogs, raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, weasels, groundhogs, cattle etc. are amongst the animals highly responsible for spreading rabies to humans.
There are also some other wild carnivores, which work as a medium in transmission of rabies from one animal to other (for example: mongoose, squirrels, rabbits etc.). As awareness of the disease has spread all over the world, it is evident that the cases of getting infected through pets have become almost rare as compared to the spread of the disease through wild animal bites.
Effects on the Body
The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system in the infected animal or humans and causes a condition called encephalopathy. Some of the early symptoms of the disease includes problems related to the nervous systems, fever, general malaise and sometimes the patient experiences a strong headache.
As the disease progresses, problems related to the nervous system increase and the patient experiences anxiety, excitation, insomnia, agitation, conditions like confusion and hallucinations, difficulty in swallowing, salivation, muscle pain, irritations, vomiting, the patient also sometimes develops phobias (hydrophobia being the most common), partial or full paralysis etc. This situation ultimately leads to death within a few days of the symptoms becoming more prominent.
If possibly bitten by an Infected Animal?
In case you are bitten by an animal (that you do not know is infected with rabies or not), all you need to do is, speak to your doctor as soon as possible and take help from the local health department to find out information about the animal and the possibility of you getting infected with rabies. Cleanse the wound with water and apply disinfectant. Get medical aid from your doctor. Also do not forget to ask him about the preventive measures as well as the necessary precautions to be taken.
Rabies can be cured by treatment after getting infected, however, the treatment expenditure is much higher than the prevention costs.
You can prevent the spread of rabies by vaccinating your pets against rabies (which can be done from any public/private clinic or local health department). If you find that your pet is carrying scratches, bites or scars, the possible source of which is unknown, then you probably need to be more careful and take your pet to a local health department to get checked for rabies.
Take care of the health of your pets and also check out for all the possible symptoms of rabies. If in case your pet bites a person, you need to take the necessary steps, such as providing proper vaccination and medical help to that person.
Besides this, stray animals also need to be taken care of from the possible infection of rabies (as your pets can come in contact with stray animals). If there are stray animals in your area, you need to inform the local health department regarding this. Take care not to handle aggressive wild animals or those looking sick.
Vaccines for humans are also available to prevent the possible infection of rabies. To reduce the risk of getting infected or bit by a rabid animal, it's better to get vaccinated first.
Remember, prevention is better than cure!