Once a rabies infection is established, there’s no effective treatment.
Though a small number of people have survived rabies, the disease usually causes death. For that reason, if you think you’ve been exposed to rabies, you must get a series of shots to prevent the infection from taking hold. If you’ve been bitten by an animal that is known to have rabies, you’ll receive a series of shots to prevent the rabies virus from infecting you. If the animal that bit you can’t be found, it may be safest to assume that the animal has rabies. But this will depend on several factors, such as the type of animal and the situation in which the bite occurred.
Rabies shots include:
- A fast-acting shot (rabies immune globulin) to prevent the virus from infecting you. This is given if you haven’t had the rabies vaccine. This injection is given near the area where the animal bit you if possible, as soon as possible after the bite.
- A series of rabies vaccinations to help your body learn to identify and fight the rabies virus. Rabies vaccinations are given as injections in your arm. If you haven’t previously had the rabies vaccines, you’ll receive four injections over 14 days. If you have had the rabies vaccine, you’ll have two injections over the first three days.
In some cases, it’s possible to determine whether the animal that bit you has rabies before beginning the series of rabies shots. That way, if it’s determined the animal is healthy, you won’t need the shots. Procedures for determining whether an animal has rabies vary by situation. For instance:
- Pets and farm animals.Cats, dogs and ferrets that bite can be observed for 10 days to see if they show signs and symptoms of rabies. If the animal that bit you remains healthy during the observation period, then it doesn’t have rabies and you won’t need rabies shots. Other pets and farm animals are considered on a case-by-case basis. Talk to your doctor and local public health officials to determine whether you should receive rabies shots.
- Wild animals that can be caught. Wild animals that can be found and captured, such as a bat that came into your home, can be killed and tested for rabies. Tests on the animal’s brain may reveal the rabies virus. If the animal doesn’t have rabies, you won’t need the shots.
- Animals that can’t be found. If the animal that bit you can’t be found, discuss the situation with your doctor and the local health department. In certain cases, it may be safest to assume that the animal had rabies and proceed with the rabies shots. In other cases, it may be unlikely that the animal that bit you had rabies and it may be determined that rabies shots aren’t necessary.
Typically, a person will not immediately feel any symptoms. Rabies symptoms may occur around 4-12 weeks or 35-65 days after the person is bitten by an infected animal. Early symptoms of rabies are sometimes difficult for people to notice because they are similar to flu symptoms. These symptoms include fever, headache, muscle weakness, and tingling sensation (paraesthesia). The time between exposure and symptoms’ appearance is called the incubation period. This period of time may vary depending on factors such as the location of the wound and the person’s immunity.
Common rabies symptoms in humans include high fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, insomnia, rheumatic pain and tingling sensation in the bitten area. People infected with the rabies virus will also feel itchy, even sore in the infected wound site. Other rabies symptoms in humans that follow are hallucinations and anxieties. People infected with the rabies virus may also experience confusion, hallucinations, and anxiety. Below are the symptoms of rabies in humans: Tingling sensation (paraesthesia), Itchy in the wound site; Fever, headache; Muscle pain; Nausea; Vomiting; Loss of appetite; Sore throat, difficulty swallowing; Anxious; Insomnia; Hallucinations; Excessive drooling; Anger, irritability, and depression; Hyperactivity; Fear of water; Fear of light.
If a person got bitten by an infected animal, getting a cure for rabies in humans is highly important. Further medical treatment should be done immediately to avoid the condition from becoming fatal. The most appropriate cure for rabies in humans is by getting a rabies vaccine. Before getting vaccinated, note that the wound site should be washed first with soap under running water for 10-15 minutes. Afterward, apply an antiseptic like povidone-iodine and go to a doctor and seek medical help to get a rabies vaccine. A doctor will give the infected person Anti-Rabies Vaccine (VAR) or Anti-Rabies Serum (SAR) as a cure for rabies in humans depending on the person’s condition. Anti-Rabies Vaccine (VAR) has a function to stimulate the rabies virus-neutralizing antibodies. The vaccine can be given for rabies prevention / before exposure (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and to people who are already infected with the virus / after exposure (post-exposure prophylaxis). On the other hand, Anti-Rabies Serum (SAR) is a passive immunization composed of Rabies Immunoglobulin. It will immediately neutralize antibodies before the immune system is ready to produce its own antibodies that occur 7-14 days after VAR is given. Usually, SAR is given once at the beginning of vaccination. SAR injections are necessary for patients with deep/large wound, multiple wounds, wound that has to be sewn, or scratches contaminated with the animal’s saliva.
Rabies vaccine as the cure for rabies in humans can prevent the virus from spreading to the brain and cause death. Vaccines are best given immediately after exposure before any symptoms appear so the virus doesn’t spread throughout the body. If early symptoms already occur, rabies still can be treated with vaccination to prevent it from spreading to the brain. If clinical symptoms of rabies begin to appear, the condition is nearly always fatal and giving vaccines will be a supportive treatment. However, there’s a possibility that the virus has reached the brain and will potentially cause death. Therefore, if you got bitten by an animal suspected of carrying the rabies virus, it is suggested to immediately get vaccinated as the cure for rabies in humans before symptoms occur.