Rabies: Closer Than You Think Essay

1592 words - 7 pages

Rabies, a virus of the nervous system and salivary glands is a fast moving killer; it’s not something to mess around with. Rabies comes from the Latin word “to rage”. Rabies is easily associated with rage. When people think of rabies, they usually think of a mad raccoon or dog, foaming at the mouth and running around crazy; dying soon after. The thought of going crazy is a pretty reasonable guess for how rabies torments its victims. The virus enters through a bite or transfer of infected saliva and makes its way through the nerves toward your spinal cord and brain. Obviously, rabies is an extremely deadly virus that affects the nervous system. Immediately after being bitten, you need ...view middle of the document...

The infected creature usually dies within 1 week of becoming sick. Within four or five days, the victim my then either slip into a months long coma ending in death or die suddenly of cardiac arrest. Rabies is extremely dangerous. It’s important to treat the wound when you have been bitten, but the disease isn’t always transmitted through a bite.
There are other ways of receiving the rabies virus than from the bite of a wild animal. Another less common way is when infected animal saliva comes in contact with a cut or a skin break on the body, since rabies is concentrated in the salivary glands, but there are more even stranger tales of contamination. Some people can be contaminated by being around infected bat droppings. “At least two people are believed to have been exposed to rabies by breathing the air in caves where rabid bats live” (3 p.225). Other unusual causes of transmission happened when patients received donated organs from donors with undiagnosed rabies. It is hard to tell when you have rabies since the symptoms do not occur until it is too late.
The first symptoms of rabies, during the “prodomal phase”, are flu-like signs such as vomiting, loss of appetite, a fever, a headache, and itching and pain where the person was bitten. This is the reason people die from it. When they notice these simple signs, they assume that they’ll get better, but if not treated right away, you can only get worse. The second phase is called the “neurological phase”. During the neurological phase, worse symptoms show such as paralysis, hydrophobia (fear of water), confusion, hallucination, anxiety, and insomnia. Once these signs appear, it’s probably too late for you to receive the post exposure vaccine (the vaccine given to victims immediately after they are bitten). These describe the way that humans are affected by rabies, but the symptoms that appear in an animal are very similar; yet different. There are two forms of rabies in animals. “Furious” rabies primarily affects the brain. It causes the infected being to be aggressive, highly sensitive to touch, and vicious. “This is the `mad dog` image of a rabid animal.” (3 p.226) “Paralytic” (or dumb) rabies primarily affects the spinal cord, weakening the animal so that it can not raise its head or make sounds because its throat muscles are paralyzed. In the beginning stage of paralytic rabies, an animal may seem to be choking. In both forms, death usually occurs a few days after symptoms appear. There have been vaccines made to help humans recover and be prevented from rabies, but what about the animals with the virus? Because of the sharp rise in animal rabies, a conditional license was granted for an oral rabies vaccine for raccoons. The license allowed the vaccine to be dropped in wildlife habitats as vaccine-laced bait. This conditional license helped with the emergency of a sharp rise in animal rabies, but surprisingly, even though the most animal cases involve...

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