Rabies, Rabies or Lyssa is a deadly infectious disease caused by viruses. Rabies is usually transmitted to humans by wild animals such as foxes, martens and bats. Not infrequently, however, also from infected feral cats or dogs. Without vaccination and treatment against rabies, the disease is 100% fatal.
What is rabies?
Rabies is an infectious disease that is usually transmitted by infected animals such as foxes or dogs. Rabies itself is triggered by so-called rabies viruses. In addition to dogs and foxes, martens, badgers and bats can also transmit rabies to humans in Germany. For meatal stenosis dictionary definitions, please visit foodanddrinkjournal.com.
Since rabies is systematically combated in Germany, the probability of being infected by an infected animal has fallen significantly in recent years. However, occasional infections do occur. The incubation period of rabies is indicated by research to be three to eight weeks. At the same time, the outbreak of the disease also depends on the amount of virus transmitted.
Rabies is notifiable in Germany and should be treated immediately by a doctor, as the disease can be fatal if left untreated. In Germany itself there are only up to three cases of rabies per year. In India, however, there are still 15,000 and in China around 5,000. Travelers to these countries should therefore think about a rabies vaccination and seek advice from a doctor.
The causes of rabies can be found in the rabies viruses, which belong to the rhabdoviruses. Transmission or infection with rabies usually occurs through wound infection such as bites, but also through saliva from infected animals or humans.
The virus then spreads to the immediately affected muscles of the wound and then continues to multiply through the nerves to the brain.
Here, in turn, they reach the salivary glands, such as the pancreas, where they can be transmitted further through saliva, digestive juices and sweat.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The symptoms of rabies can be broken down into three stages. In the first stage, the prodromal stage, the signs of rabies are non-specific. Patients complain of headaches and stomach aches, fever develops, which can rise sharply as the disease progresses. Vomiting and diarrhea are other common symptoms.
If rabies was transmitted through a bite, the wound around the bite site may itch. In the further course, increased irritability of the patients is observed. Those affected often react sensitively to water, light, drafts and noise. The second stage is called the excitation stage. At this stage, the brain of the affected patient is already affected and neurological signs of the disease appear in addition to the symptoms of the first stage.
Patients develop an intense, even panicky, fear of water, which is also triggered by water noises such as rushing or splashing and swallowing their own saliva. As a result, many patients no longer swallow; the larynx may spasm and saliva leaks from the mouth. In atypical cases, symptoms such as seizures, confusion, aggression and hallucinations appear in the second phase.
In the third stage, the paralysis stage, rabies becomes more and more paralyzed, as a result of which the patient falls into a coma. The symptoms of paralysis affect all muscles and spread to breathing.
The course of rabies depends on the timely detection of the disease. If the infected person is treated immediately after being bitten by an animal infected with rabies, the chances of recovery are good and complications are rather rare.
However, if the brain is infected by the rabies virus and the typical rabies symptoms appear, the disease can no longer be cured. Death can no longer be averted and can only be delayed with the help of intensive care medicine. So far there has only been one case worldwide in which a patient survived the rabies.
A rabies infection that has already spread to the brain always brings death as a complication. All complications of rabies can usually be circumvented by rapid vaccination immediately after possible exposure. The mortality rate for implanted rabies is nearly 100 percent. It is therefore necessary to see a doctor or hospital quickly after being bitten by an animal that tends to get sick.
Thus, once rabies has spread through the body, it can kill the sufferer in a number of ways. The most common complication leading to death is an onset of coma with respiratory arrest. But a cerebral infarction, meningitis, encephalitis and many other symptoms of the disease also lead to death. The other complications are caused by seizures, occurring hydrophobia or photophobia, an enormous salivation and the other characteristics of an inflammation.
The course of an outbreak of rabies is often not treated properly, since the paralysis and respiratory depression in particular suggest a Guillain-Barré syndrome. Accordingly, the dying patient is not immediately treated according to his illness (palliative). In addition, if you have Guillain-Barré syndrome, you do not need to protect yourself against infection from other people, which makes transmission of rabies more likely.
When should you go to the doctor?
Rabies is a serious disease that always requires medical attention. A doctor should always be consulted after contact with an animal that may be infected with rabies. Even if a conspicuous animal has licked the skin, a rabies vaccination is necessary. The typical symptoms usually appear three to eight weeks after infection. If you experience any unusual physical or psychological symptoms during this period, we recommend that you consult a doctor. Typical warning signs are headaches, gastrointestinal problems and fever. The painful bite site is the clearest indicator of infection.
Emergency medical treatment is required after a bite. Otherwise, the fever will continue to rise and cause severe physical discomfort. If the patient vomits their own saliva, the emergency doctor must be alerted. People who frequently come into contact with forest animals are particularly at risk. A precautionary rabies vaccination is recommended before traveling to Africa, Asia or Latin America. After returning home, the general practitioner should be consulted for a routine check-up. The doctor can identify any pathogens based on a saliva test and initiate appropriate treatment.
Treatment & Therapy
After being bitten by an animal potentially infected with rabies, the doctor should treat the disease as soon as possible. In the hospital, the infected wound is cleaned with strong soapy water and water. The aim is to wash out the rabies virus before it can multiply in the muscles. Alcohol is also used to try to kill the pathogen and disinfect the wound.
If the wounds are already very deep, it may also be necessary to rinse them out with catheters. These treatment measures are always carried out in the intensive care unit and are closely monitored. After washing out, a so-called dead vaccine is vaccinated. This vaccine and additionally administered immunoglobin are intended to immunize the patient against rabies. A vaccination against tetanus or tetanus is often carried out as a preventive measure .
The best way to prevent rabies is to get vaccinated. This is not paid for by all health insurance companies, but should be considered especially by travelers to America and Asia or veterinarians and hunters. The protection of this vaccination lasts for 5 years.
Other preventive measures include avoiding contact with wild and unusually tame or aggressive wildlife. Wild or conspicuous animals should not be touched or only handled with the help of protective gloves.
After the initial medical treatment of the wound, the bite site must be monitored for the next 24 to 48 hours. It is important to identify possible infections and other complications at an early stage. If so, they need to be treated. The intervals at which these checks are necessary depend on the individual situation.
So that the healing process is not endangered, the wound must be observed for unfavorable changes. Attention is paid to whether the wound is reddened or swollen. Joint pain, restricted range of motion or fever must also be taken seriously. In this case, a doctor or an emergency department should be consulted immediately.
If you don’t react in time, the worst that can happen is a generalized infection such as blood poisoning or sepsis. If left untreated, death can occur. It is also advisable to have a rabies vaccination after a bite. Here, 20 IU per kilogram of body weight of human rabies hyperimmune globulin are administered once by syringe.
There are no contraindications that speak against such a vaccination after being bitten by an animal suspected of having rabies. Even if the patient does not go to the doctor until a few weeks or months later after the bite, post-exposure vaccination must be carried out. Furthermore, it must be checked whether the patient is protected by an adequate tetanus vaccination. If necessary, this should also be refreshed.
You can do that yourself
When it comes to rabies, it is important to act quickly. If symptoms of an illness are noticed after an animal bite or contact, such as fever and pain, a doctor must be consulted immediately.
Immediate vaccination can often prevent the onset of the disease. Careful cleaning of the wound is also important. By using special rinses, a large part of the viruses can be removed before they enter the body. Prophylaxis can also be useful for the relatives of the sick person.
After the active and passive vaccination rest and protection apply. The course must be carefully observed and the active vaccination repeated after three, seven, 14 and 28 days. This can be accompanied by immunoglobulin therapy.
After treatment, the cause of the possible rabies infection should be determined. After an animal bite, for example, the animal responsible must be caught and examined. However, prophylaxis takes place before the animal is diagnosed in order to improve the chances of recovery. If it turns out that the animal is not ill, the treatment can be stopped.