What is Rabies?

Rabies is a particularly serious viral disease transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected animal. It carries a very high death rate, often within 10 days of the bite. Rabies is fairly common in many overseas countries, especially in the large parts of Europe, the East and also America. Although infected dogs are commonly regarded as the major source, many other animals (mostly wild, but also those in captivity) are infected.

With air travel so cheap and readily available, more people are tripping overseas. We wish to caution anyone visiting overseas countries against the risk of rabies. Often animals may seem tame and friendly and amenable to being patted, when in fact their usual mental acuity is drastically clouded by rabies infection affecting the nervous system and brain. Patting or playing with such animals could readily cause them to bite, quickly transferring the infection to the person.

Rabies Symptoms

It may take many weeks (from four to eight) for symptoms to occur. Numbness, tingling, irritability, perspiration and excessive salivation are early symptoms. This is followed by a stage of excitability: apprehension, neck stiffness, twitching, convulsions, high fever, and spasms of the muscles used to swallow. Symptoms rapidly worsen; unconsciousness and death commonly follow when symptoms have set in, often within a few days.

It all sounds alarming but fortunately, a vaccine is now available that can be given beforehand to persons who feel they may be at risk to this disease. Also, if a person has been bitten by a suspect animal protective injections are available, but prompt treatment is essential to avoid disaster. The most important piece of advice is this: If you and the family plan an overseas tourist trip, under no circumstances handle animals of any kind, even though they may outwardly appear tame and friendly. Drill your children with the same advice.