All what you want to know about rabies
What is rabies?
Rabies, also known as hydrophobia, is an acute viral infection which is almost always fatal. It comes under the category of communicable diseases and is transmitted by farm or wild animals; usually carnivores such as dogs, cats, jackals, racoons. It is mostly seen in Africa and parts of South East Asia. Islands such as Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Taiwan, Japan and Cyprus do not have rabies. It is classified under zoonotic diseases (zoonotic means pertaining to animals).
Causes of rabies
- Rabies in humans is due to the bite of a rabid animal. The virus is transmitted through the animal's saliva.
- Farm animals like dogs, cows, horses, goats, rabbits and wild animals like jackals, bats, coyotes, foxes and hyenas can transmit rabies if they are infected. In India, stray dogs are the most likely source of infection, as pets are vaccinated.
- Handling the rabies virus in the laboratory, exploring caves where there may be bats or camping in the forest where wild animals are present are the usual circumstances in which the bite of a rabid animal is inflicted.
- Human-to-human transmission has not been documented. If a rabid animal licks an open wound on a person, the virus can be transmitted. Head and neck wounds are more dangerous as the infection can reach the brain faster.