World Rabies Day 2022: Warning signs of rabies in dogs; what to do after a dog bite

Published on Sep 28, 2022 04:31 PM IST

World Rabies Day 2022: Rabies is a deadly disease that can cause inflammation in the brain in humans as well as other animals. Here's how to recognise warning signs in dogs and what must be done after a dog bite.

World Rabies Day 2022: Warning signs of rabies in dogs; what to do after a dog bite(SHUTTERSTOCK)
World Rabies Day 2022: Warning signs of rabies in dogs; what to do after a dog bite(SHUTTERSTOCK)
By, Delhi

World Rabies Day 2022: Rabies is a deadly disease that can cause inflammation in the brain in humans as well as other animals. In humans it can be transmitted by an infected animal through bites or scratches as well as saliva. It is important to get your pet vaccinated for rabies. Your pet may contract rabies if bitten by a rabid animal or infected by the saliva or brain or spinal tissue of an infected animal in their eyes, nose, mouth, or an open wound. (Also read: Rabies to ringworm; 7 diseases you can get from pets)

"It (Rabies) is an RNA virus of the rhabdovirus family that can have two effects on the body. It has the ability to enter the peripheral nervous system and migrate to the brain. It can also replicate within muscle tissue, where it is protected from the immune system of the host. It then enters the nervous system via neuromuscular junctions. The disease can be fatal if not treated. However, if a person who has been exposed to rabies seeks immediate medical attention, it is treatable," says

Dr Aditya Chowti, Senior Consultant- Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bengaluru.

Dr Chowti says rabies can be classified into two types; the first type is called furious or encephalitic rabies that affects 80% of human cases and is associated with hyperactivity and hydrophobia. The second type of rabies is known as paralytic or "dumb" rabies which causes paralysis as the primary symptom.

Symptoms of rabies in dogs

While the very early symptoms in dogs may not raise an alarm bell and would simply include fever, decrease in energy and appetite, after a couple of days, rabies symptoms progress very fast in dogs and may include weakness or paralysis of the legs, seizures, difficulty breathing, hypersalivation due to difficulty swallowing, and abnormal behaviour, as per PetMD.

Dogs infected by rabies can show symptoms of either of the furious or paralytic rabies symptoms or both. In case of furious phase, dogs become aggressive and sometimes delusional. They may hallucinate and attack with no trigger. In the paralytic phase, dogs develop paralysis of various muscular systems and may not be able to swallow, which leads to excessive salivation and foaming at the mouth - a classic sign of rabies infection. Eventually, dogs may slip into coma and die after paralysis or prolonged seizure activity.

Symptoms of rabies in human

Dr Aditya Chowti talks about symptoms of rabies in humans:

The first symptoms of rabies can be very similar to flu symptoms and can last for days.

Subsequent signs and symptoms may include:

• Fever or Headache

• Nausea, vomiting

• Agitation, anxiety, confusion

• Hyperactivity

• Swallowing difficulties

• Hallucinations

• Insomnia

• Partial paralysis

What to do if bitten by a rabid dog

If you have been bitten by an animal or have been exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies, seek immediate medical attention. You and your doctor can decide whether you should be treated for rabies based on your injuries and the circumstances surrounding the exposure. Seek medical attention even if you are unsure whether you have been bitten, says Dr Chowti.

Treatment

"If a person receives a bite or scratch from a potentially rabid animal, or if the animal licks an open wound, the individual should immediately wash any bites and scratches with soapy water, povidone iodine, or detergent for 15 minutes to help reduce the number of viral particles. They must then seek medical attention immediately," says Dr Chowti.

"A series of shots can treat potential rabies infections after exposure but before symptoms appear. Because doctors rarely know whether an animal has rabies, it is safer to assume it does and begin vaccination," adds Dr Chowti.

Rabies vaccinations include:

- A rapid-acting vaccination (rabies immune globulin) to keep the virus from infecting you. If you have not received the rabies vaccine, you will be given this. This injection is administered as soon as possible after the bite, preferably near the site where the animal bit you.

- A series of rabies vaccinations designed to teach your body how to recognize and fight the rabies virus. Rabies vaccinations are administered through injections in the arm. If you have not previously received the rabies vaccines, you will receive four injections over the course of 14 days. If you have previously received the rabies vaccine, you will receive two injections over the next three days.

Prevention:

To reduce your chances of coming into contact with rabid animals, take the following precautions:

- Vaccinate your animals: Rabies vaccines are available for cats, dogs, and ferrets. Inquire with your veterinarian about how frequently your pets should be vaccinated.

- Keep your pets inside: Keep your pets indoors and supervise them when they are outside. This will reduce the chances of your pets coming into contact with wild animals.

- Keep small pets safe from predators: Keep rabbits and other small pets, such as guinea pigs, inside or in secure cages to keep wild animals at bay as these small animals cannot be immunized against rabies.

- Report stray animals to the appropriate authorities: Report stray dogs and cats to your local animal control officials or other local law enforcement.

- Keep bats away from your home: Seal any cracks or gaps through which bats can enter your home.

- Do not approach wild animals: Rabies-infected animals are less likely to be cautious and may approach people.

- Get vaccinated: If you're going to a country where rabies is common and will be there for an extended period of time, consult your doctor about getting the rabies vaccine. This includes travelling to outlying areas where medical care is scarce.

- Increased awareness and educational information.

- Increased access to medical care for people who have been bitten

- Preexposure vaccinations are recommended for people who are at high risk of contracting rabies, such as veterinarians. Anyone who has been bitten by a potentially infected animal should seek medical attention immediately and receive post-exposure vaccinations. If they have not already received the virus vaccine, they may also require fast-acting RIG.

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