Rabies: Know the Facts

What is Rabies?

Paw printsRabies is an infectious disease that is caused by a virus. Rabies is distributed worldwide in various mammals. The reservoir of the virus includes both wild and domestic animals. In the USA and Canada, wildlife rabies most commonly involves skunks, raccoons, and bats. Worldwide death due to rabies is estimated at 50,000 people per year.

 How is Rabies Spread?

Rabies virus is spread from one animal to another, or from an animal to a human, through close contact with saliva of an infected animal i.e. bites, scratches, licks on broken skin.

Rabies is a slow progressive disease that is characterized by a fatal meningoencephalitis. The virus enters nerve endings and advances toward the spinal cord, and the brain. Once it reaches the brain, the virus multiplies and then travels through the nerves to most parts of the body. The infection cycle is completed when the virus replicates in the salivary glands and is shed in the saliva. By this time, the disease has usually damaged the brain, producing either a submissive or violent behaviour. It eventually causes death, which usually occurs from cardiac or respiratory arrest.

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