Rabies virus spread

The human race has fought numerous threats and has safeguarded its existence time and again right from the time when we were apes to the modern-day world when we have climbed the ecological pyramid. The threats have arrived in various forms, sometimes humongous and sometimes as microscopic as a virus. And this time, the threat we need to fight together is Rabies. Though Rabies is 100% preventable, it can prove to be fatal if precautionary measures are not taken after an exposure. It claims lives of nearly 59,000 people every year around the world. So we ought to Rise against it.

Rabies can be defined as a contagious and fatal viral disease of dogs, cats, monkeys, camels or wild animals like mongoose, bats and foxes transmitted through their saliva to humans when bitten or scratched.

How does the virus spread?

You are more likely to be exposed to the rabies virus if you are a veterinarian, animal handler, or if you casually come into contact with animals that may carry the virus. Besides being on field duty, males account for 70% of the bites as compared to women. Being in contact with the infected animal that can bite, scratch or lick may also increase your risk of exposure to rabies.

After the exposure, there may be no symptoms at first, but weeks or even months later, Rabies can cause headache, tiredness, irritability, fever, hallucinations, seizures, and even paralysis. By the time symptoms appear, it generally is too late to save the patient.

How can you prevent Rabies?

Although Rabies is a serious disease, the government and individuals can take measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The measures include –

On the government level

  1. Scheduled Anti-Rabies vaccinations for all pets and domestic animals.
  2. Imparting Educational information and awareness on rabies, its causes, symptoms &
    prevention.
  3. Nationwide drives to eliminate the rabies virus using the print, television, radio and the
    Internet medium.

On an individual level

  1. Vaccinate your pets
  2. Regularly vaccinate your pets depending on what pet you own. Puppies and kittens should receive their first rabies vaccination when they are 12 weeks of age. Your Pets must be vaccinated again in one year, and after that, a three-year rabies vaccine is generally administered during the rest of your pet’s life. Protecting your own pet is your foremost responsibility

  3. Always keep an eye on your pet
  4. Whenever you take your pet outdoors or in the company of other pets, keep an eye out for them for they can be bitten by another probably infected animal. If your pet bites another animal or is bitten, consult a veterinarian immediately. You must also keep a check on behaviour of your pet. If you notice any sudden changes in the behaviour, you must consult a vet immediately.

  5. Report strays to your local authorities
  6. If you see a stray animal in your locality, make sure you report to the authorities & get the animal vaccinated for the greater good of the society.

  7. Avoid direct contact with wild animals, dead or alive
  8. Never touch any wild animal with your bare hands. If you come across a sick or injured wild animal, immediately call your local animal control agency or humane society and let the experts handle it.

  9. Educate your children
  10. Children are the victims in about 35% of Rabies cases. Tell your children to maintain a safe distance from animals like dogs, cats, monkeys, etc. and to inform you immediately in case they scratch or bite them. Listen to them patiently and avoid scolding them, they must not be scared to tell you about any such incident.

Rabies in India

Rabies is one of the oldest recognized diseases affecting humans and one of the most prevalent diseases in India.

In India, about 17 million people are bitten by animals, mostly dogs, every year and need post-exposure prophylaxis. Since 1985, India has reported an estimated 20,000 human deaths from Rabies annually, which is an alarming figure. These deaths can be avoided if timely precautions are taken immediately after an animal exposure.

91.5% animal bites are by dogs, of which about 60% are strays and 40% pets. The incidence of animal bites is 17.4 per 1000 population. A person is bitten every 2 seconds, and someone dies from rabies every 30 minutes.

This steady increase in the number of cases involving animal bites & the ever-increasing demand for the rabies vaccines poses a serious question of whether India is in the middle of an epidemic of Rabies or this is just a result of the uncontrollable increase in the number of animals & greater exposure of humans to them.

Therefore, it is now much more important than ever to protect your pet as well as yourself from the dangerous disease called Rabies.

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