This month we have done a document on Rabies. Please note although we talk about Dogs specifically, it includes all animals, all your pets, all your livestock. All Animals. Last year in Canada, a farmer was stomped to death by his Horse that had the "Furious" form of Rabies.
Awhile back, a man became infected and died from Rabies after examining the mouth of his sick Cow who had the "Paralytic" form of Rabies.
People have also contacted Rabies from their own sick/disturbed Dog or Cat that they handle without realizing it has the disease.
The reason for this document is to praise Dr. Rodney E. Willoughby Jr. who saved the life of a Rabies Patient after it was far to late for "Post Exposure Vaccine". The 15 year old girl, Jeanna Giese, survived because of Dr. Willoughby. (Wisconsin, U.S.A.)
Jeanna is the ""FIRST"" person ever to survive the disease without having Rabies Immunization. (She had handled a Bat a few weeks before). She owes her life to a novel drug regimen that put her in a Deep Coma for a week while Dr. Willoughby fought to save her. Everyone hopes and prays that she will someday triumph over her remaining serious Neurological Problems. Rabies is basically 100% Fatal.
Rabies is a fatal disease (basically 100% Fatal without Pre Immunization or else IMEDIATE Post Exposure Rabies Vaccine) that occurs in nearly all warm-blooded animals, although rarely among rodents. In the United States, vaccination programs for dogs and other domestic animals have been remarkably effective. They have all but eliminated the risk of rabies in both pets and their owners. The number of human rabies cases has declined to less than five cases per year. The major wildlife reservoir for rabies is now the skunk, which accounts for about 40 percent of cases. However raccoons, bats, foxes and other wild carnivores can serve as a reservoir for the disease, thereby accounting for sporadic cases.
Any strange animal that allows you to approach it without running away from you is acting abnormally. Do not pet or handle such an animal. Rabies should be suspected. However, the only definite determination of rabies is through Autopsy.
Outside the United States, the main source of infection for humans remains a bite from an infected dog or cat. In India, for example, a country that lacks an effective rabies control program, it is estimated that 15,000 people die each year of rabies. Travelers to countries where rabies is endemic should be alert to the risk of dog bites.
The Rabies Virus, which is present in infected Saliva, usually enters at the site of a bite. Saliva on an open wound or mucus membrane also constitutes exposure to rabies. Animals suspected of having rabies should be handled with great care-PREFERABLY NOT AT ALL!!!
The average incubation period in dogs is three to eight weeks, but can be as short as a week or as long as a year. The virus travels to the brain along nerve networks. The further the bite is from the brain, the longer the incubation period. The virus then travels back along nerves to the mouth where it enters the Saliva.
The signs and symptoms of rabies are caused by Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The first signs are quite subtle and consist of personality changes. Affectionate and sociable pets may become irritable and aggressive. Shy and less outgoing pets may become overly affectionate. Soon the animal becomes withdrawn and stares off into space. The animal will avoid light, which hurts the eyes (photophobia), and will seek seclusion. Finally, the animal will resist handling. Fever, vomiting and diarrhea are common.
There are two characteristic forms of Encephalitis. One is the so-called Furious form and the other is the Paralytic form. A rabid animal may show signs of one or a combination of both forms.
The furious form is the "mad dog" type of rabies. Here the animal becomes frenzied and vicious, attacking anything that moves. The muscles of the face are in spasm, drawing the lips back to expose the teeth. When running free, the animal shows no fear and snaps and bites at any animal or moving object along the way.
In the Paralytic form the muscles of the head become paralyzed, causing the mouth to drop open and the tongue to hang out. The swallowing muscles become paralyzed, which causes drooling, coughing spells and pawing at the mouth. As Encephalitis progresses, the animal loses control of movement, staggers about, collapses and is unable to get up. NOTE: Many people mistakenly think the animal has something caught in their throat and may infect themselves when trying to extract it. If you do not know the animal, do not attempt to check it's throat!!!
Once symptoms develop, the disease in dogs and humans is invariably fatal.
Public Health Considerations: The World Health Organization has established certain guidelines for practitioners to follow in the appropriate management of people who are exposed to a potentially rabid animal. The treatment schedule depends upon the nature of the exposure (lick, bite), severity of the injury and the condition of the animal at the time of exposure and during a subsequent observation period of ten days. When an animal is killed or dies during confinement, its brain is removed and sent to a laboratory equipped to diagnose rabies from special antibody studies.
If there is the slightest possibility that a dog or cat is rabid (even your own animal) and if there has been any sort of human contact, impound the animal immediately and consult your physician and veterinarian. This holds true even if the animal “Is Known To Be Vaccinated For Rabies”.
As an alternative, in the cases of a wild animal or feral dog or cat whose owner is unknown, the animal can be killed immediately. Should it escape, there is no way to prove the animal was not rabid, and “Post-Exposure Rabies Vaccines” may have to be given to all humans who came into contact with the animal.
Guide to Post-exposure Rabies Prophylaxis. It is of utmost importance to promptly cleanse all animal bites and scratches, washing them thoroughly with soap and water. Studies in animals have shown that local wound cleansing greatly reduces the risk of rabies.
The introduction of inactivated vaccines grown in human diploid cell cultures in 1980 has improved the effectiveness (and safety) of post-exposure vaccination. When vaccination is indicated, it should begin AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after the exposure. Vaccination is “Not Effective” once the early signs of rabies are present.
Pre-exposure Immunization. Preventive vaccinations are available for high-risk groups including Veterinarians, Animal Handlers. Cave Explorers and Laboratory Workers.
Treatment: There is NO effective treatment for Dogs or Any Animal after contacting the disease. Be sure your pet is vaccinated at three to four months of age. Then follow the procedure of your veterinarian to keep vaccinations current.