Rabies – know the facts

World Rabies Day was on September 28, and ER24 is urging people to educate themselves about this deadly virus that affects both animals and humans who have not been vaccinated against it.

Rabies is transmitted to humans mainly through the saliva of infected animals, commonly dogs. This can happen through bites, scratches or when the animal licks broken skin on a person.

Preventative treatment administered after exposure to a rabid animal can stop someone going on to develop the disease.

However, those who develop symptoms rarely survive because there is no cure. Many of these fatalities are young children, says ER24.

Symptoms can appear a few weeks to years after being exposed to the disease. People with rabies can experience headache, fever, muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, anxiety, fear of water, paralysis and seizures.

If you’re bitten or scratched by an animal you believe is rabid, you should immediately wash the wound, no matter how minor it is, for at least 15 minutes with water and soap and seek urgent medical attention, even if you had a rabies vaccination as a child.

The patient will be treated based on the assumption that the dog was not immunised if the dog’s status is unknown or if proof of immunisation cannot be provided.

It’s the law for pet owners to vaccinate their animals.

ER24 advises the public to avoid stray animals, and, if you see your dog behaving strangely or aggressively, even though it is not being provoked, seek the help of professionals.