World Rabies Day: Busting Myths with Facts

Are only Dogs Rabies Carriers? Busting Rabies Myths with Facts

Rabies is a deadly virus that spreads from mammals to other animals or humans through the saliva, mainly in case of a bite. Rabies can even transmit when contaminated saliva enters an open wound or mucous membrane like the mouth or eyes; however, this happens in rare situations. Dogs stand out as predominant rabies carries, when we speak of developing countries of Southeast Asia and Africa. On this World Rabies Day which falls on the 28th of September, Gigadocs brings you the signs, symptoms, transmission carriers, and rabies prevention tips.

Rabies Signs and How is Rabies Transmitted?

Rabies attacks the central nervous system of the affected. Initially, there may be no signs however, as the infection progresses, flu-like signs may appear as the first Rabies symptom. This if not treated can aggravate the development of headaches and a general feeling of discomfort which can prove to be fatal. We must note that the earliest signs of rabies are often mistaken for flu symptoms and can persist for days. On rare occasions, the virus may also transmit to tissue and organ transplant recipients from an infected organ. The following are some of the other symptoms and animals which transmit the rabies virus to humans:

Signs and Symptoms Rabies Transmission Carriers
FeverPets and farm animalsWild animals
Hyperactivity Skunks
Difficulty swallowing Woodchucks
Excessive salivation  
Partial paralysis  

How serious is Rabies?

Even though we can altogether avoid Rabies, it takes away more than 59,000 people each year worldwide. When a person starts to develop signs and symptoms of Rabies, the disease almost often takes them. World Rabies Day honors our efforts to combat this devastating illness and serves as a reminder that the battle is far from over.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are working in collaboration to minimize human deaths from dog-transmitted Rabies by 2030.

Why is September 28th World Rabies Day?

28th September worldwide is observed as the death anniversary of Louis Pasteur, the French microbiologist, and chemist who is accredited to the invention of the first Rabies vaccine. World Rabies Day traces back its origins to 2007 when the global fraternity came together to spread awareness about rabies prevention and control. This year will mark the fifteenth year of the Would Rabies Day observance.

This year’s theme emphasizes rabies facts and eliminates any misconceptions surrounding this disease.

Rabies Myths and Facts

Rabies is a disease that is riddled with myths. Let’s bust the common myths with facts.

  • Myth: Rabies has no prevention
  • Fact: There are vaccinations that prevent the onset of rabies among dogs and cats. Due to the widespread use of immunizations, a cat, dog, or person alive has a much lower risk of catching rabies.
  • Myth: Rabies is always life-threatening.
  • Fact: There is no effective remedy for rabies, and rabies is always life-threatening if left untreated. However, following a rabies infection, there is a limited possibility of survival, and the key is to seek prompt treatment with a series of vaccinations that prevent the infection from spreading rapidly.
  • Myth: Animal bites spread Rabies.
  • Fact: Although most people identify Rabies with dog bites, it can also transmit by scratches from recently licked nails of animals or Animal Saliva coming in contact with wounds. Though a scratch or a bite from a wild mammal as those listed in the table above can also cause Rabies.
  • Myth: Dog bite wounds must not be washed off.
  • Fact: According to the WHO, one of the best things you can do after being bitten by a dog is to cleanse the wound quickly and adequately afterward to reduce your chances of contracting rabies. While washing the dog bite doesn’t cause any harm, we must note that merely washing off the wound is not enough. The affected person must immediately seek medical treatment.
  • Myth: Rabies vaccine works for only a few months.
  • Fact: Contrary to popular believes the Rabies vaccine is effective for almost a year. This is why most vets ask pet owners to get their pets vaccinated on an annual basis.
  • Myth: Rabies shots aren’t required for indoor dogs and cats.
  • Fact: It’s critical to listen to your veterinarian’s advice when it comes to whether or not your indoor animals need to be vaccinated. In a rural setting, an indoor pet could get out and be bitten by a rabid wild animal and become a rabies carrier.

Rabies Prevention

Vaccinating your dogs and cats against rabies is the safest method to protect yourself, your family, and your pets. We have listed the tips which as a pet owner you can adopt for rabies prevention: 

  • Ensure your pet has received their annual vaccination shots, rabies vaccine is available for your dogs and cats. Inquire with your veterinarian about how frequently your dogs and cats should be vaccinated.
  • Keep your pets safe. Keep your dog’s inside and keep an eye on them when they are outside. This will help prevent your pets from encountering wild animals.
  • Keep little pets away from predators. Rabbits and other small pets, such as guinea pigs, should be kept inside or in secure cages to avoid being attacked by wild animals. Rabies vaccines are not available for these little pets.
  • Don’t get too close to wildlife. Wild animals infected with rabies may remain unafraid of humans and may bite, transmitting rabies.
  • If you’re going to be traveling, you should consider getting a rabies vaccine, especially where rabies is frequent. This involves trips to remote locations where medical assistance is difficult to come by.
  • Report stray dogs and cats to your local animal control officials or any law enforcement agencies.

When to See a Doctor for Rabies?

If rabies is not treated, it will weaken the nervous system and cause abnormal behavior such as hallucinations, delirium, sleeplessness, movement problems, and hydrophobia over weeks or months (fear of water). It will eventually lead to a terrible death.

If you’ve been bitten by an animal or exposed to a rabies-infected animal, seek medical help right away. Your doctor shall decide the medical course for rabies based on your injuries and the exposure circumstances.

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