Rabies is a contagious viral disease causing damage to the brain and spinal cord and is uniformly fatal. It affects both animals and humans and is caused by the rabies virus.
Although rabies can be found in domestic and wild animals most cases of rabies in humans are caused by infected dogs. Rabies is transmitted through contact with saliva or tissue of infected animals (bites, scratches, licks on broken skin or mucous membranes of the eyes or lips). If you suspect you have had contact with a rabid animal it is very important to get treatment as soon as possible. Children are at higher risk of getting rabies, because they are more likely to interact with strange animals.
Once symptomatic there is no treatment.
Rabid animals tend to behave strangely, often aggressively. They also experience muscle paralysis, increased production of saliva and have trouble swallowing. Wild animals may lose fear of humans and become strangely tame.
In humans, rabies presents in the form of “furious” rabies or “dumb” rabies. Initial symptoms of rabies may be non-specific and include general weakness, discomfort, fever and/or headaches. Tingling at the bite site may be noted. The disease progresses rapidly to “furious” rabies which presents as anxiety, confusion and agitation. As the disease progresses, the patient becomes delirious, behaves abnormally, hallucinates and may have a variety of psychiatric symptoms before becoming comatose. The acute period of disease typically lasts 2 to 10 days.
Rabies is a preventable disease, the only way to eradicate rabies from South Africa is with vigorous vaccination campaigns within our canine population.
Protect our country, our children and our pets by vaccinating against rabies today!