Rabies is a fatal viral ailment that assails the central nervous system (CNS) and leads to severe encephalitis. This viral disease is spread from animals to human beings (a condition called zoonotic), very frequently by means of animal bites. However, there have been reports of people being infected by rabies after they have visited caves inhabited by bats and inhaling the air in those places. Provided immediate treatment is not started prior to the appearance of the symptoms, rabies is almost fatal at all times.
People infected by rabies and not being administered the protective treatment following exposure to this virus (also known as post-exposure prophylaxis) will undergo a number of symptoms including headache, fever and muscle pain (myalgia), which ultimately results in seizures, inflammation of the brain, confusion, paralysis, coma and eventually death.
Once the virus has entered the nerves, the disease becomes incurable. This is the main reason why you should undergo immediate treatment with RIG or rabies immunoglobulin injections, rabies vaccine and antibiotics whenever you come in contact with suspicious animals. It takes anything between four weeks and eight weeks for the rabies symptoms to develop from the time of being infected by the virus. This is also known as the incubation time for rabies. However, in a number of instances the incubation period may be just as little as one week, while in some cases it may take even a year for the symptoms to appear.
It may be noted that more than 55,000 people succumb to rabies across the globe every year and 95 per cent of these victims are in underdeveloped countries in Asia and Africa. In most cases, the death occurs following dog bites. What is worse is that anything between 30 per cent and 60 per cent of the victims are children below the age of 15 years. In most instances, the dog bites are not reported and, very often, parents of the victims as well as the officials also do not recognize the bites.
As a result, compared to adults bitten by dogs, the chances of developing complications as well as deaths in children are higher. Hence, it is very much possible that the actual number of casualties in several regions of the world is more than the official approximations. In fact, we are in the dark regarding the precise number of undiagnosed deaths across the globe.
What are the signs and symptoms of rabies?
A symptom of a disease or condition is something that is experienced and described by the patient. On the other hand, a sign is something what others, for instance, the physician, notice. For instance, while drowsiness may possibly be a symptom, dilated pupils may actually be a sign.
The time gap between the first infection and the beginning of the initial symptoms (also called the incubation period) may vary from four weeks to about eight weeks – however, in some cases it may even take a year for the symptoms to appear. It is said that the more the distance between the site of the bite and the head, the more extended the incubation period is likely to be.
The initial symptoms are usually akin to those of flu, such as headache, fever and exhaustion. The patient is also likely to experience stinging and/ or pain at the site of the dog bite. In addition, they may also have a loss of appetite (anorexia).
The patient may develop two forms of rabies – dumb rabies or furious rabies.
Symptoms of furious rabies
People developing furious rabies will experience symptoms like stiff neck; increasing anxiety and agitation; seizures; convulsions; excessive production of saliva and tears (usually in the final stages of the disease); dilated pupils; sleeplessness (insomnia); hallucinations; delusions; and partial paralysis.
The symptoms of furious rabies also include photophobia (unusual reaction or feeling to light); thermophobia (abnormal or unusual sensitivity to temperatures); and hydrophobia (it becomes more and more difficult to drink water). The throat muscles as well as the diaphragm contract when the patient tries to drink water or any fluid. Sooner or later, the patient’s condition worsens to such an extent that even the sight or sound of water may cause spasms. In addition, the patients suffer from sporadic mental clarity accompanied by acute anxiety, which is followed by confusions, hallucinations and delusions alternately.
In effect, all patients suffering from rabies infection succumb to their disease in anything between two and ten days after the onset of initial symptoms. It is only on rare occasions that people have survived a rabies infection and even these people have suffered from serious damage to their brain.
Symptoms of dumb rabies
This form of rabies is rarer and it has an effect on the patient’s spinal cord. When one is infected by dumb rabies, he/ she becomes paralyzed gradually and eventually their heart and lungs cease to function. Just a week after an individual develops acute symptoms, they go into comatose and eventually die.
The symptoms experienced by patients suffering from dumb rabies include headache, angst, agitation, confusion, excessive production of saliva and spitting too often, hydrophobia, hallucinations, and partial paralysis which increases gradually and continues to worsen.
Supplements and herbs
Any individual who may be infected with rabies virus should essentially receive treatment, which includes a range of injections called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). The medication administered through these shots will help the immune system to get rid of the disease in its very early stage.
Provided an individual is administered the PEP treatment even before he/ she develops the symptoms associated with the disease, they will generally be able to avoid the infection and also have a much better opportunity of complete recovery. Nevertheless, a number of people are of the view that the home remedies discussed below are effective in protecting us against rabies infection till the victims get appropriate medical aid or visit a physician for treatment.
The very first thing that an individual, who has been exposed to an animal suspected to be infected by rabies, should do is rinse the area bitten or scratched by the animal using soap and water. Subsequently, they should call a physician or the neighbourhood health department right away.
In case an individual is suffering from an infection that is related to rabies, he/ she will be able to combat the infection effectively provided they take vitamin C supplements or consume foods having elevated vitamin C contents. Some of the foods that will be beneficial for them include fresh herbs, oranges, cauliflower, kiwi, red peppers and guavas.
In addition, ingesting adequate amounts of vitamin B will also assist in producing antibodies that will facilitate the body to combat the infection. While vitamin B can be ingested through supplements, one may also eat foods containing elevated levels of vitamin B, such as celery, cabbage, pineapple, watermelon, raspberries, tomatoes, spinach and tangerines.
Some people believe that walnuts are helpful for counteracting the venom transmitted by the bite of a rabid dog. If you wish to employ this remedy you need to pound walnut, onion and salt taken in equal proportions. Some people also add honey to this remedy. Use the mixture to dress the wound caused by the dog bite/ scratch and contact your physician at the earliest.
For centuries, people practicing traditional Chinese medicine have been using skullcap for treating convulsions related to rabies. Provided you have a skullcap at home, you may also use the same.
People who plant an assortment of herbs in their garden will naturally find lots of herbal medications for a wide variety of medical problems. In case you prepare a compress with lavender and apply it to your wound, it will possibly facilitate the healing process and accelerate it too.
The natural antibiotic characteristics of the herbs may possibly assist in treating the consequences of a bite by any rabid dog. A number of people also use some garlic cloves thrice every day to facilitate the healing of wounds.
Some people are of the view that cumin seeds also have the aptitude to neutralize the toxic consequences of a rabid dog bite. Pound roughly 20 black peppercorns and two teaspoons of cumin seeds, add water to these substances to prepare a paste and apply it to the wound caused by the dog bite.
Aromatherapy works well to alleviate rabies symptoms. Cleanse the affected area using cool water and subsequently, apply undiluted lavender essential oil. If required you may also apply a dressing or add some drops of lavender oil to gauze and apply it to the affected area. It is also essential for you to visit a physician, as some animals you come in contact with may be carrying rabies or other infections.
Always bear in mind the fact that an individual’s reaction to stings and bites may possibly change from the manner in which they reacted to them on earlier occasions. Repeated exposure to stings and bites may even make a person allergic to something. In addition, it is advisable that you should never take for granted that you will be all right, as you were with stings and bites on earlier occasions. Every time you are stung or bitten, you ought to consider it as a fresh experience. Always be cautious and get well.
Additional things you may do
In addition to using conventional medications, herbs and supplements and aromatherapy, you may do a few more things to ensure that you don’t get rabies infections. Some of these are discussed briefly below.
First and foremost, any person who is travelling abroad, especially those visiting areas where rabies is prevalent or being aware that they will possibly be exposed to infected animals, for instance walking around caves infested by bats ought to essentially get a pre-exposure rabies injection.
In fact, people who have been administered this vaccination have a longer incubation period and get additional time to obtain medical aid. Although the pre-exposure rabies vaccination does not protect one completely from being infected by rabies, it certainly helps to inhibit the progression of the infection.
Exposure to animals
It is advisable that you should never touch animals that you are not familiar with, irrespective of how pretty, furry, and cute or friendly they may appear to be. This is all the more important while you are visiting places which are not free from rabies.
In case you are not living in an area or country that is free from rabies infection, you ought to ensure that the vaccinations of all your pets as well as farm animals are current. In case you are not sure if their vaccinations are up-to-date, it is advisable that you consult a veterinarian and get the needful done.
Other beneficial herbs