Rabies Awareness Month

 Rabies Awareness Month

Rabies is a human infection that occurs after a penetrating bite or scratch by an infected animal, like dogs and cats. It can be transmitted when infectious material, usually saliva, comes into direct contact with a victim’s fresh skin lesions.

Rabies is considered to be a neglected disease, may be fatal if left “untreated” though preventable. It continues to be a public health problem in the Philippines. Our country is one of the top 10 countries with rabies problem. It is responsible for the deaths of 200 to 300 Filipinos per year. In 2010, 257 died of rabies, and in 2011, 202 deaths were reported.

At least 1/3 of deaths due to human rabies are among children less than 15 years old. Animal bite cases have been increasing for the past 5 years. At least 328,459 persons in 2011, and 266, 220 individuals in 2010 were bitten by animals. School children comprise almost half of rabies exposure. Dogs remain the principal cause of animal bites and rabies cases.

There are two types of rabies: the furious type and the paralytic type

Furious rabies exhibit signs of:
1. Hyperactivity
2. Excited behaviour
3. Hydrophobia (fear of water) and sometimes aerophobia (fear of flying). A few days after the bite, death occurs by cardio-respiratory arrest

II. Paralytic rabies - longer course than the furious form
Signs and Symptoms
a) Muscles gradually become paralyzed
b) Patients develop coma and eventually death occurs

To determine whether a biting dog is rabid or not, confine him in a cage or at least leash him in an isolated area. Carefully observe the animal for 14 days for physical symptoms described above. Better yet, bring the dog to a veterinarian for proper observation. If the dog dies within two weeks, it is most likely rabid.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Rabies Infection include:
1. Fever
2. Nausea
3. Vomiting
4. Headache

Note: An infected person will experience dysfunction in the nervous system such as hallucination and paralysis.

What to do if bitten by a rabid animal:
1. Stop the Bleeding - apply sustained pressure for several minutes.
2. Clean the Wound - wash with clean water and gentle soap for 15 minutes.
3. Gather information about animal - notify the local health department or animal control about the animal's possible whereabouts. If the animal is a pet, get owner's contact information.
4. See a Health Care Provider Immediately
-Do not wait for symptoms to appear.
-If possible, bring information about the animal.
5. Follow Up - if there is any risk of rabies infection, the health care provider will recommend anti-rabies treatment. This may include a series of shots. The person may require a tetanus shot, depending on the date of the last shot.