If you love dogs, and most people do, it is very likely that you love your pet dog more than the humans in your habitat. Researchers have found that the same hormone, oxytocin, spikes in both human and canine brains when a dog is gazing at its owner. ... So the findings suggest that owners love their pets in the same way as family members, and the best part is dogs return their devoted affection. According to a piece by Mic in partnership with GE, “Not only do dogs seem to love us back, they actually see us as their family. It turns out that dogs rely on humans more than they do their own kind for affection, protection and everything in between.”
But sometimes, love stories go all wrong, and for all the wrong reasons. Rabies is one of them. Today, 28 September is World Rabies Day It is celebrated annually to raise awareness about rabies prevention and to highlight progress in defeating this horrifying disease. 28 September also marks the anniversary of Louis Pasteur's death, the French chemist and microbiologist, who developed the first rabies vaccine. Today, safe and efficacious animal and human vaccines are among the important tools that exist to eliminate human deaths from rabies while awareness is the key driver for the success of communities to engage in effective rabies prevention.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans), caused by the rabies virus, of the Lyssavirus genus, within the family Rhabdoviridae. Domestic dogs are the most common reservoir of the virus, with more than 99% of human deaths caused by dog-mediated rabies. The virus is transmitted in the saliva of rabid animals and generally enters the body via infiltration of virus-laden saliva from a rabid animal into a wound (e.g. scratches), or by direct exposure of mucosal surfaces to saliva from an infected animal (e.g. bites). It may be noted that the virus cannot infiltrate intact skin. Once the virus reaches the brain, it further replicates, resulting in the presentation of clinical signs from the patient.
There are two clinical manifestations of rabies – furious (classical or encephalitic) and paralytic. Furious rabies is the most common form of human rabies, accounting for approximately 80% of cases.
The infection causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mainly in Asia and Africa. 40% of people bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age. Rabies is present on all continents, except Antarctica, with over 95% of human deaths occurring in the Asia and Africa regions. The World Health Organization - WHO -leads the collective “United Against Rabies” to drive progress towards "Zero human rabies deaths by 2030".
How do you know if your dog has rabies?
Paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles may follow, resulting in the well-known symptom of foaming at the mouth. Disorientation, incoordination, and staggering may occur, caused by paralysis of the hind legs. Other classic signs of rabies include loss of appetite, weakness, seizures and sudden death.
How long does a dog live if it has rabies?
The quarantine is set at 10 days because a rabies-infected animal can only transmit the disease after clinical signs have developed AND once these signs have developed, the animal will die within 10 days.
Transmission of Rabies:
People are usually infected following a deep bite or scratch from an animal with rabies, and transmission to humans by rabid dogs accounts for 99% of cases. In the Americas, bats are now the major source of human rabies deaths as dog-mediated transmission has mostly been broken in this region. Bat rabies is also an emerging public health threat in Australia and Western Europe. Human deaths following exposure to foxes, raccoons, skunks, jackals, mongooses and other wild carnivore host species are very rare, and bites from rodents are not known to transmit rabies. Transmission can also occur when infectious material – usually saliva – comes into direct contact with human mucosa or fresh skin wounds. Human-to-human transmission through bites is theoretically possible but has never been confirmed.
What happens if a dog with rabies bites you?
If the animal has the rabies virus in its saliva, the wound can become infected. Once in the body, the virus spreads quickly to the spinal cord and brain. It is possible to catch the disease without getting bitten.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Rabies?
The first symptoms of rabies can appear from a few days to more than a year after the bite happens. At first, there's a tingling, prickling, or itching feeling around the bite area. A person also might have flu-like symptoms such as a fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, and tiredness.
After a few days, neurological symptoms develop, including:
• irritability or aggressiveness
• excessive movements or agitation
• confusion, bizarre or strange thoughts, or hallucinations
• muscle spasms and unusual postures
• seizures (convulsions)
• weakness or paralysis (when a person cannot move some part of the body)
• extreme sensitivity to bright lights, sounds, or touch
Someone with rabies can produce a lot of saliva (spit), and muscle spasms in their throat might make it hard to swallow. This causes the "foaming at the mouth" effect that has long been associated with rabies infection. It also leads to a fear of choking or what seems like a "fear of water," another well-known rabies sign.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is the immediate treatment of a bite victim after rabies exposure. This prevents virus entry into the central nervous system, which results in imminent death. PEP consists of extensive washing and local treatment of the wound as soon as possible after exposure; a course of potent and effective rabies vaccine that meets WHO standards; and the administration of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG), if indicated. Effective treatment soon after exposure to rabies can prevent the onset of symptoms and death. Extensive wound washing involves first-aid of the wound that includes immediate and thorough flushing and washing of the wound for a minimum of 15 minutes with soap and water, detergent, povidone iodine or other substances that kill the rabies virus.
Rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease. Vaccinating dogs including stray ones in the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people. Dog vaccination reduces deaths attributable to rabies and the need for PEP as a part of dog bite patient care.
A good way you can protect yourself and your family is to take simple precautions:
1. Ensure the vaccination of all pets in the house.
2. During their outdoor time, ensure that there is no contact with other animals.
3. Report Stray animals in your neighbourhood to Corporation authorities at the earliest.
4. Keep away from any animal that looks unafraid.
5. Carcasses of dead animals, even if stray, like rats or cats should be disposed of immediately and no pets should be allowed near them.
6. Open balconies or windows can be netted to prevent the entry of bats into homes.
Love your dog, but stay safe.
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