World Rabies Day is celebrated on the 28th of every September. This day focuses on the need to raise people’s awareness about rabies and how it can be prevented and treated.
In the Philippines, there are a lot of stray dogs that are (unfortunately) unvaccinated. In fact, we are one of the top 10 countries when it comes to the incidence of rabies, and because of this, it is even more important that we know what rabies is, as well as its signs, symptoms, and preventions.
Rabies is a fatal virus that is present in the saliva of warm-blooded animals such as dogs, cats, and bats. It can be transmitted to humans by just a bite or a scratch from the aforementioned animals. According to the Department of Health (DOH), it is estimated that 200 to 300 Filipinos die from rabies yearly while approximately 100,000 people are treated.
Signs and Symptoms
The early symptoms of rabies are similar to the symptoms of many other infections. It is usual for an individual with rabies to experience the following symptoms: fever, headache, muscle pains, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
As these symptoms progress, more specific symptoms are developed, such as: hallucination, extreme sensitivity (especially to bright lights, sound, and touch), aggressiveness, and increased production of saliva or tears.
When the virus further spreads to the other parts of our nervous system, symptoms such as double vision, having problems in moving your facial muscles, and foaming at the mouth (which is caused by the increased production of saliva) maydevelop.
As a pet owner, you should be responsible in vaccinating our pets with anti-rabies yearly. Make sure to keep you dogs and cats under control so that contact with unsupervised animals, who may have rabies, is minimized. Aside from this, if you see a stray animal, take caution and try to avoid them since they may attack and bite you.
If ever you have had contact with an animal that you think may have rabies, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for several minutes and get medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you are unsure whether the animal has rabies or not, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Furthermore, if your pets have had contact with a wild animal, call your pet away from the animal and wait for two hours before touching your pet. However, if you want to handle your pets right after they made contact with the wild animal, make sure to wear thick gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards. Afterwards, contact your local veterinary in order for you to determine whether or not your pet has had any exposure to rabies.
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