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What is rabies?

Rabies is caused by a bullet-shaped virus called lyssavirus.

Lyssavirus belongs to a large group of viruses called rhabdoviruses.

HOW YOU GET RABIES - Transmission

Rabies is passed through the saliva of an affected animal. The saliva is transmitted to a human (or another animal) from a bite.

It is possible to transmit rabies if the infected saliva touches a scratch, the eyes, or the mouth.

It may also be possible to inhale the virus in an area where infected animals (like bats) live in large numbers

The bat is the vector responsible for most human rabies deaths


In the United States, there are about 1-2 cases of rabies per year.

However, the number jumps to 15,000 worldwide as most cases are found in developing countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

India has many cases each year.

People who are in close proximity to infected animals are more likely to get rabies.

Symptoms of rabies

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Burning in the area of the wound
  • Excitability
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme sensitivity to temperature change
  • Fear of water
  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory problems
  • Often leads to coma or death

How to treat rabies

Rabies is highly curable before symptoms occur.

The wound is washed and cleaned, but NOT stitched!

Antibiotics are given over a series of four injections over a time period of four weeks.

When symptoms appear, the chances of survival go down.

Patients may be placed in a drug-induced coma and given 4 different anti-viral medications

To prevent rabies, you should have yourself and pets annually vaccinated.


If immunizations are given within 2 days of transmission, treatment is almost 100% successful.

If immunization is delayed, success goes down.

If immunizations are not given, the fatality rate is 100%

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Vaccinating pets and taking precautions around wild animals are the best ways to prevent the spread of rabies.

Current Event

An article about the discovery of a rabid raccoon showed that governments are trying to spread the vaccine to wild animal populations using vaccinated “baits.”


Liam Casey The Canadian, Press. “Raccoon rabies case uncovered in Hamilton.” Toronto Star (Canada) 05 Dec. 2015: Newspaper Source. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.

“Rabies.” Brittannica School. Encyclopӕdia Brittanica, Inc., 2016. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://school.eb.com/levels/middle/article/313338/>.

“Rabies.” Diseases. Ed. Bryan H. Bunch and Jenny E. Tesar. Danbury, CT: Grolier, 2006. 12-13. Print.

“Rabies.” Janet Byron Anderson and Rebecca J. Frey, PhD. The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Ed. Jacqueline L. Longe. 5th ed. Detroit: Gale, 2015. 9 vols.

“Rabies.” World Health Organization. WHO, 2016. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.