Rabies is a serious disease, which is passed to humans from bites or scratches from animals that carry the rabies virus. Treatment with an anti-serum and vaccine works well if you receive them soon after being bitten. People who should be immunized against rabies include those who work with animals, and travelers to remote areas where medical help is not available.

What is rabies infection?

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus. It causes spasms, fear of water, madness, paralysis and usually death. Symptoms start 2-8 weeks after being bitten or scratched by an animal (usually a dog) carrying the rabies virus. However, symptoms may occur months or even years after a bite from an infected animal. The virus passes through the cut skin and travels (gradually) into the nervous system.

India is the most common country affected by rabies. Foxes are the main carriers, but dogs, cats, cattle, horses, badgers, deer, raccoons, bats and skunks can be affected.

Who should be immunized?

People who should be immunized are:

  • Those who are in regular contact with rabid animals, such as zookeeper's, quarantine workers, vets, etc.
  • Travelers traveling to parts of the world where rabies is common, for more than a month.
  • Healthcare workers who come into contact with patients with rabies.
  • People working with the rabies virus in laboratories.
  • Health workers who are at risk when dealing with patients with confirmed rabies.
  • People working abroad (e.g., veterinary staff or zoologists) who may be in contact with animals with rabies.
What vaccination required?

The vaccine used for rabies virus is given in three doses. After the first injection, a second injection is given seven days later and a third injection 21-28 days after the first injection. The vaccine is very effective - almost 100%. It stimulates your body to make antibodies against the rabies virus. These antibodies protect you from rabies should you become infected with this virus .Booster doses may be required after one year and then every 3-5 years for people who continue to be at risk. People who are at intermittent risk by traveling again into areas with rabies may need a booster after two years. People who work with rabies may need a blood test to confirm their immunity.

Vaccine should be avoided in:

  • People who have, high temperature it is best to postpone immunization until after the illness.
  • You should not have a booster if you have had a severe reaction to this vaccine in the past.
  • you should not have one of the rabies vaccines, Rabipur, if you are allergic to eggs. The other rabies vaccine is safe to have even if you have an egg allergy.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding you may still be advised to have the vaccine if the risk of exposure to rabies is high.

The side effects of the vaccine include, local redness and swelling at the site of the injection, which may occur for 1-2 days. Mild fever and muscle aches with nausea (feeling sick) occur rarely and soon pass without leaving any problems. Severe reactions are extremely rare.

If a wild or a domestic animal in endemic areas for rabies, bites a person, then one should wash the wound immediately with soap and running tap water for at least five minutes. Disinfectant and a simple dressing may be applied to the wound.Seek medical attention as soon as possible even if you have been previously immunized, as further treatment may be given to minimize the risk of is an effective anti-serum (antidote). You may also be given a series of immunizations (even if you have been previously immunized).

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