What is Rabies

The rabies virus is said to infect the central nervous system and thus is said to travel to the brain by following up with the peripheral nerves of the human body. The incubation period of the virus is about a few months to several years depending on the distance travelled by the virus to reach the brain. Once the virus reaches the brain, the symptoms begin to develop and the infection becomes untreatable over a period of time. The early signs and the symptoms of the disease include malaise, fever, headache, acute pain, uncontrollable movements, depression, anxiety, lethargy and more. At the end, the patient may experience hydrophobia and thus lead to coma.

The main cause of death with rabies is said to be respiratory insufficiency. All over the world, about 97% of individuals who are infected with rabies have transmitted the disease from the bite of an infected animal. There are many animal control and vaccination programs that have lead to the elimination and control of the disease. Nevertheless, many of these infections come from dog bites across the world. Many countries have successfully eliminated the disease by means of vaccination programs and eliminating dogs that act as means of a reservoir.

The incubation period for the virus is about two to twelve weeks, although the virus may take about two years to develop an infection in a few individuals. The most common forms of symptoms start with the basic headache and malaise and thus lead to partial paralysis of the individual, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, terror and thus leads to delirium. Large quantities of saliva and tears are produced and there is an inability to swallow and thus speak. This inability is attributed to the partial paralysis that is caused by means of this virus. The first ever successful patient to have been treatment after the development of symptoms is Jeanna Giese, by means of the Milwaukee protocol and thus is known to have survived rabies without post-exposure prophylaxis.

The main causative agent is the Lyssavirus of the Rhaboviridae family with a helical symmetry of about 180 nm and a cross section of about 75 nm. These viruses are enveloped and contain negative sense, single stranded RNA as the genetic material. The genetic information is compacted in a ribonucleoprotein complex termed as the viral nucleoprotein. This virus enters the cell by means of pinocytosis, where it is engulfed by cell by means of the endosome and thus establishes the means of infection.

The main mode of diagnoses is the PCR or the viral culture method that is performed on the brain samples obtained. Diagnoses can also be performed by means of saliva, urine and other CSF fluid samples, but this is not as sensitive as the other methods. Negri bodies are the sole diagnostic features of rabies infection but are found only in about 80% of the infected species. Ideally, prevention is the best medicine and vaccination can be used to prevent the establishment of infection and thus keep the individual safe.

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