Rabies is caused by a virus which is present in the saliva of affected animals, mainly the dog. Monkeys, bats and jackals can also cause rabies, but fortunately they do not come into close contact with people. Rabies is transmitted through bites and even licks, if the skin surface is open with a scratch, wound or sores. The virus travels to the brain and the symptoms begin 4-8 weeks after the bite. Sometimes, there may be a delay of over 2 years. The disease is always fatal and so every effort must be made to prevent it.
The pet dog should be protected against rabies by injections. One has no control over stray dogs. but the municipality should round them up. It is important to recognize a rabid animal. He may go off his food completely, behave in a strange manner or later run around biting people without any provocation. He has difficulty in swallowing, dribbles saliva all over and foam at the mouth. The name hydrophobia is given to the disease because the animal cannot swallow and may even start convulsing at the sight of water. In dumb rabies the animal is quiet and it appears as if a bone has got stuck in his mouth. The owner or a servant may try to remove it with his hand and the dog might bite him.
The wound should be washed thoroughly with soap an water and the dog should be tied and observed. This may no be possible with a stray dog. A pet should be observed for 4- days and if he seems quite well at the end of this time he can be considered healthy. The doctor’s advice should be taken immediately after a dog bite. Bites on head, face and neck should be treated with anti rabic vaccine even while the dog is being watched. The treatment can be stopped after 4 days if the dog appears norm and healthy.