Rabies is a viral disease that is spread from animals to humans and other animals. It is also an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical symptoms. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans. Yet, rabies can affect both domestic and wild animals. It is spread to people through bites or scratches, usually via saliva. It causes acute inflammation of the brain and disrupts the mental faculties. The rabies virus is most commonly spread through animal bites. All warm-blooded animals including humans can be infected by rabies. However, the virus has recently adopted the ability to infect cold-blooded animals as well but the effect is not fatal to them.
The first World Rabies Day campaign took place in September 2007 as a partnership between the Global Alliance for Rabies Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA, with the co-sponsorship of the World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Pan American Health Organization. Every year, more than 15 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination. This is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually.
Dogs, bats, monkeys, foxes, skunks, cattle, wolves, coyotes, mongooses, bears, domestic farm animals, groundhogs, weasels, hares and rabbits and small rodents such as chipmunks, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, and squirrel are carriers of rabies.
It takes around two to three months for the first symptom to surface in humans. Rabies often goes unnoticed as the initial signs are nonspecific like fever and headache. As the disease spreads and causes the inflammation of the brain or meninges, more serious symptoms are noticed such as partial paralysis, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, anger, paranoia, terror, hallucinations progressing to delirium and coma, The fear of water is the most prominent symptom of rabies. In many parts of the world, rabies is commonly known as ‘fear of water’.