Rabies is a virus specifically transmitted through contact with infected saliva and/or brain/nervous system tissues. Rabies is a very serious medical issues that requires immediate attention in order limit its effects. A vaccine is available post exposure that is a succession of relatively painless shots, given in the arm, over a 14 day period with follow up doses after the initial vaccination period. [1]


Rabies has been recognized as a disease of concern for a long time. For example rabies was mentioned in his literary works dating back to 300BC. Throughout history rabies has more prevalent in some geographical areas than others. Over time these trends changed depending on the animal population and the prevalence of the disease. In the 20th century a vaccination for rabies played a huge role in the limiting the effects of rabies. That said, some parts of the world still experience the effects of rabies more so than other areas. [2]


The signs and symptoms of rabies initially appears similar to flu like symptoms like weakness, discomfort, fever, or headache. [1] At the site of the bite the infected may experience discomforting sensations such as prickling or itching. These symptoms quickly transition to symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion and/or agitation. After 2 to 10 days the acute period of the disease typically ends. Unfortunately, when the symptoms progress to the clinical stage the disease is nearly always fatal. [1]


All mammals are able to contract the Rabies virus. However, some species are more important as reservoirs, like raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyote and several species of bats. The transmission of Rabies usually occurs when the host bites an uninfected animal and exposes it to the infected saliva. Transmission can occur through contamination of mucus membranes like the eyes, nose and mouth. However, this method of transmission is not very common. [1]


Rabies has the potential to be a very debilitating disease, even fatal. Bite wounds can cause nerve or tendon lacerations and infections. A list of some complications of Rabies is as follows:

Brain infection

Cardiac failure

Respiratory failure

Death in about 80% of cases



In an effort to prevent the transmission of rabies many countries created laws in the 18th century that allowed for the destruction of stray dogs. However, the public protested this effort and many of the countries did not enforce these laws. In the 19th century quarantine of infected animals was introduced. This was a result of a better understanding of dogs and the transmission of rabies to urban populations. These efforts proved to be effective as evidenced by the reduction of rabies cases in the 20th century.

In 1885 vaccine was introduced to vaccinate dogs to prevent infection and possible transmission to humans. However, it wasn't until the 1920's that this practice was widely used.

Currently, there is no known cure once symptoms of rabies develops. That said, post exposure protocols have proven to be nearly 100% effective when administered soon after exposure. [3]

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Sept. 2015. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.

"Rabies History." News-Medical.net. 20 Nov. 2009. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.

"Complications of Rabies." - RightDiagnosis.com. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.