Even though rabies comes in two symptomatic forms in dogs(the paralytic and furious form), major signs of a rabid dog includes:
1. Change in behaviour: a docile dog may become easily irritable and aggressive, while a previously active dog may become docile. Such dogs may attack (without being provoked), humans and other animals, even inanimate objects.
2. Photophobia/Hydrophobia: They may be afraid of light and water.
*RABIES IN HUMANS*
Time of onset of disease, from time of contact of virus, varies between 2- 8 weeks, and it is dependent on the dose of virus, size or location of bite or scratch.
1. There is an initial development, from tingling sensation around area of bite or scratch, to fever, loss of appetite, dizziness, sore throat and cough.
2.It then progresses to a stage of insomnia and hallucinations.
3. It could develop to a furious or paralytic stage. In the furious stage, such individual becomes aggressive, and is characterized by biting other people. Such infected person will also develop an uncontrollable fear for water.
The Paralytic stage is when muscles of such individual gradually get paralyzed. It may progress from paralysis at site of bite or scratch, to paralysis of the throat muscles (causing the individual to make odd sounds, and may foam in the mouth).
Rabies can be prevented by administration of vaccines, and any pet owner that refuses to vaccinate the pet is at risk of contracting rabies. Hence, there it is a necessity to vaccinate one’s pet against it, especially dogs. Anti-rabies vaccine (one shot) should be given within 3-6 months of age, depending on the vaccination history of the female dog that gave birth to it, then a yearly booster shot. This should be done by a registered and licensed veterinarian like me.
*FIRST AID FOR BITES*
Once bitten by a rabid or suspected rabid animal, the area of bite should be washed with water and soap for about 10-15 minutes, or can be cleaned with 70% ethanol. It should be noted that these are only first aid measures, and cannot guarantee that the individual will not come down with the infection. Such individual should be injected with rounds of rabies vaccines for post-exposure prophylaxis, to prevent replication of the virus, and the animal should be reported to the nearest veterinary hospital. However, there is *NO POSSIBLE TREATMENT*, once rabies symptoms manifests. A painful death is inevitable.
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