I became inspired to tackle this subject by a news report released the other day: 'Patient with Rabies detected in New Zealand'. This is the first case ever to be identified in this country. The report states that the disease was contracted overseas and there is no subsequent risk of further infection. The patient eventually succumbed to this horrific disease. Without a lengthy and rigorous treatment, rabies is virtually 100% fatal.
Rabies is a serious disease, although mercifully not endemic in the West, yet. Thusly,
this post will be serious and friviourless nonsense will not be part of this essay.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans. It is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, but can also be contracted through exposure to infected saliva, such as a scratch or lick on broken skin or exposed mucous membranes.
A bit of science stuff: The rabies virus belongs to the family Rhabdoviridae and is a bullet-shaped virus approximately 180 nm long and 75 nm wide. It is a negative-sense single-stranded RNA virus, meaning that it carries its genetic material in the form of RNA rather than DNA (retrovirus).
Rabies is a zoonotic disease and can be transmitted from animals to humans. The virus is found in the saliva and nervous tissue of infected animals, and can be transmitted to humans, or other animals, through a bite from an infected animal. Dogs, racoons, bats, skunks and foxes represent the most common animals to be affected/infected with the virus and then able to that transmit the disease to humans.
Once the virus enters the body, it travels to the central nervous system (CNS), where it replicates and causes a local inflammatory reaction. The virus then spreads to other parts of the body, such as the salivary glands, where it can be transmitted.
The incubation period for rabies in humans is typically between 1 and 3 months but can range from a few days to several years. During this time, the virus can spread to other parts of the body, including the brain, where it causes severe neurological issues. Symptoms of rabies in humans include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle weakness, and tingling or prickling sensations at the site of the initial wound. As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms develop, such as insomnia, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, aggression, and hydrophobia (fear of water). The disease is almost always fatal once symptoms develop.
Treatment involves a series of injections of rabies immune globulin and rabies vaccine. The immune globulin is given to provide immediate protection against the virus, while the vaccine is given to stimulate the body's immune system to produce antibodies against the virus. The vaccine is typically given in a series of 4 doses over a period of 14 days. If treatment is started soon after exposure to the virus, it is almost always effective in preventing the development of rabies. However, once symptoms develop the treatment regimen is usually ineffective. Thus, treatment should be prompt and aggressive following exposure.
Rabies is a significant problem in many parts of the world, particularly in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 59,000 people die from rabies each year, with the majority of deaths occurring in Africa and Asia. Despite the availability of effective vaccines, access to these vaccines remains limited. This is due to a variety of factors, including a lack of resources and infrastructure, as well as cultural beliefs and attitudes towards animals.
I think I have been sensible long enough and that this post should terminate on a well-deserved and elongated, Arrrrrrrrrrse. Nuff said.