Rabies is a very deadly disease. During the summer months, it is observed that animal bites and rabies cases increase. This is because the heat of summer can cause stress to pets, notably dogs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that around 55,000 people die of rabies annually. In the Philippines, it is reported that rabies claims the lives of 200 to 300 people per year.
Rabies is caused by a virus carried by animals, notably by dogs. This virus could be transferred to other animals and to human beings from animal saliva. Once it is transferred to animals, it affects the central nervous system and causes the death of the infected person.
Symptoms can manifest in two forms: furious and paralytic. Those infected by furious rabies experience hyperactivity, excited behavior, hydrophobia, and sometimes aerophobia that eventually leads to death by cardio-respiratory arrest. Meanwhile, the paralytic rabies starts with paralysis from the area of the bite and eventually the whole body which will lead to coma then death.
There is NO cure on the point when symptoms manifests. The only way to be safe from rabies is through prevention and early treatment.
Here are some tips on how to be safe from rabies.
Have your pet vaccinated against rabies. This goes to cats and dogs that would stay at home and very often come into contact with you, your friends, and family.
Take good care of your pets. Aside from vaccines, it is better to have your pets in healthy condition to reduce or eliminate restlessness. Feed them well and give them plenty of water to drink for them to not be restless out of hunger or thirst.
Report any stray dog to the local pound or to animal welfare groups. It is better to have the dog or cat sent to an animal shelter than let them wander off in the streets. Both people and the animals are at risk of getting hurt.
Stay away from stray dogs or from dogs you are not familiar with. One can never tell if a particular animal is friendly nor infected with rabies.
Never leave children with pets. Children are very likely to approach and play with animals. Keep them safe by not leaving them unattended with pets. Children might unknowingly hurt the pet and cause the animal to defend itself and bite.
Don’t provoke an animal into biting. Have limits when playing with animals, especially with your own pet. When you hear a growl or hiss, it’s time to back off and let your pet settle down.
Don’t disturb a resting or nursing animal. The summer heat causes more stress, especially to dogs. This makes them restless and may likely bite once disturbed or surprised. Also, never disturb a dog nursing its young. Its protective motherly instinct can provoke into defending its puppies and bite.
Avoid getting open wounds come into contact with pets. This is to prevent the wound from being infected with rabies. Pets, especially dogs, tend to sniff their owners. This sniffing can lead to direct contact of saliva with the wound. This also applies to broken skin tissues. Letting infected saliva get into contact with the wound will cause the same infection as a bite.
What to Do Once Bitten
Apply first aid. Stop the bleeding and immediately clean the wound with soap and running water. Then cover the wound with clean bandages.
Identify the animal. Know and inform the owner of the pet about what happened. Know the background of the animal whether or not it has been vaccinated against rabies. The doctor would need the information when getting treatment. Also, it may be necessary to observe the animal’s condition.
Get anti-rabies treatment immediately. Go to the nearest medical center or clinic for treatment. Time is very crucial for a bite victim. Incubation period of rabies virus can take a week to a month before symptoms appear. There is no means of diagnosis for rabies infection in its early stage.
NEVER leave a wound untreated. We repeat, rabies is a very deadly disease. Many are discouraged to get treatment as it is believed to be full of hassle and sometimes expensive. Because of this, many opt not get treatment or wait before going to a doctor. Don’t wait for the symptoms to appear before seeking treatment because once the symptoms of rabies appear, it is too late for treatment. There is no cure once the virus has affected the nervous system, so never mind the cost of getting treatment because your life is more important.