Transmission of Rabies to Humans

Rabies is a rarely met disease in humans and mostly present in Asia or Africa. The rabies infection may be caused by an animal bite (a cat or dog that carries the virus). The rabies is a severe viral disease that will lead to encephalitis or myelitis and can be prevented by administering an anti rabies cure immediately after the bite.

Transmission of Rabies to Humans

The rabies is a zoonotic disease, which means that the virus is transmitted by animals (cats, dogs, raccoons, skunks, bats that carry the virus). However, over 95% of the cases of rabies in the US have been caused by dog bites.

The virus is present in the infected animal's saliva. If the bite is superficial and causes no blood, the virus may not be transmitted. Only if the saliva enters the blood flow will the infection with rabies be possible.

In rare cases, the rabies virus may be transmitted through other means than saliva.

A singular case of transmission of rabies through surgery transplant was recorded.

Rabies Symptoms

If you have been bitten by an infected animal, the symptoms may not be visible for a few months (the incubation period).

The rabies virus will go to the brain through the peripheral nerves and will affect the central nervous system. The virus will affect the brain, causing encephalitis (swelling of the brain). The virus may also attack the spinal cord, causing myelitis (the inflammation of the spinal cord).

Symptoms will include nausea, fever or hydrophobia (fear of water). In advanced stages, the virus will cause coma and eventually death. Death will typically occur within days after the virus reaches the central nervous system.

Prevention of Rabies

The occurrence of rabies may be prevented by the administration of an anti rabies therapy immediately after the bite or at least within 10 days of the bite. The wound must be cleaned with an antibacterial soap, so as to remove the saliva of the animal.

The anti rabies therapy will consist of 4 injections administrated over a 14 days period plus a shot of human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG, which is only recommended if you haven't been vaccinated against rabies before the exposure to the saliva of the infected animal).

You should always get a checkup after being bitten by an animal or pet whose vaccination history is unknown.

If you have been previously vaccinated against rabies, you may only require a booster shot.

You may also prevent rabies by avoiding contact with animals that may be suspect of rabies. An animal with rabies will display an unusually aggressive behavior, may be drooling in excess and foaming at the mouth and can attack without being provoked.

If you are a pet owner or work in an environment with pets, you should get a rabies vaccination. The vaccination must be repeated at least once every 3 years.