Rabies is a life-threatening viral infection that causes acute inflammation of the spinal cord and brain.
Humans are infected through being bitten by animals carrying the disease. The Rabies Vaccination is vital in preventing infection.
Initial symptoms of rabies are mild and include fever, anxiety and headache. Early symptoms can often be mistaken for the flu. Sufferers may also experience irritation at the site of the infection. Initial symptoms will last for 2-12 days, before more severe symptoms start to develop. At this stage, two types of rabies can develop, “Furious rabies” and “Dumb rabies.” Symptoms of Furious Rabies are; aggressive and agitated behaviour, excessive sweating, hydrophobia, photophobia, high temperature and delusionary behaviour. Dumb rabies, also referred to as Paralytic rabies, is characterised by weakness in the muscles, loss of feeling in the hands and feet and paralysis. Both result in heart or lung failure and are fatal.
Rabies is present worldwide and results in over 50,000 deaths every year.
Travellers are advised to avoid contact with stray animals in infected areas. The disease can be spread typically by an animal bite, however, also by a scratch, or a lick to an open wound or broken skin. All mammals are at risk of infection.
A course of Rabies vaccinations is essential for those travelling to high-risk areas and particularly those who might be exposed to animals because of the nature of their travel. In the event of an animal bite, or potential exposure to rabies, the individual should immediately seek urgent medical attention.