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QUALITY
ASSURANCE
PROCEDURES
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THE RABIES
VIRUS
.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. It is caused by the rabies virus, which belongs to the Lyssavirus genus within the family Rhabdoviridae. Here's what you need to know about the rabies virus:

 

Transmission:

 

1. Animal Bite: Rabies is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. The virus is present in the saliva of infected animals and can be transmitted through a bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure.

2. Wildlife Reservoir: In many parts of the world, rabies is maintained in wildlife reservoirs, such as bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Domestic animals, including dogs, cats, and livestock, can also become infected and transmit the virus to humans.

 

3. Human-to-Human Transmission: While rare, human-to-human transmission of rabies can occur through organ transplantation, corneal transplants, or rarely, through bites or scratches from an infected individual.

Symptoms:

1. Prodromal Stage: The initial symptoms of rabies, known as the prodromal stage, may include fever, headache, malaise, and discomfort at the site of the bite.

2. Furious Rabies: In some cases, rabies progresses to the furious form, characterised by hyperactivity, agitation, hallucinations, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Patients may exhibit erratic behaviour and become aggressive.

3. Paralytic Rabies: Alternatively, rabies may manifest as the paralytic form, with weakness, paralysis, and loss of muscle function. This form is less common but progresses rapidly and is often fatal.

Diagnosis:

1. Clinical Evaluation: Diagnosis of rabies is primarily based on clinical symptoms and history of exposure to a potentially rabid animal.

2. Laboratory Tests: Laboratory tests, such as direct fluorescent antibody testing (dFAT) or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), can detect the presence of the rabies virus in tissue samples, including saliva, cerebrospinal fluid, or skin biopsies.

 

Prevention:

 

1. Vaccination: Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent rabies in both humans and animals. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) vaccination is recommended for individuals at high risk of exposure, such as veterinarians, animal handlers, and travellers to rabies-endemic areas.

2. Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP): Prompt administration of post-exposure prophylaxis is crucial following potential exposure to rabies. PEP involves thorough wound cleaning, rabies vaccination, and in some cases, administration of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) to provide immediate passive immunity.

Treatment:

1. No Cure: There is no cure for rabies once symptoms develop. Treatment focuses on supportive care to alleviate symptoms and maintain comfort.

2. Preventive Measures: Prevention of rabies through vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis remains the most effective approach to reducing the incidence of the disease.

Global Impact:

1. Global Burden: Rabies remains a significant public health concern in many parts of the world, particularly in regions where canine rabies is endemic.

2. One Health Approach:  Rabies control efforts often involve a One Health approach, integrating human, animal, and environmental health strategies to prevent and control the spread of the virus.

In conclusion, rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects humans and animals worldwide. While the rabies virus is preventable through vaccination and proper wound care, timely administration of post-exposure prophylaxis is essential following potential exposure. Public awareness, vaccination campaigns, and coordinated control efforts are critical for reducing the global burden of rabies and ultimately eliminating the disease.

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