Nostradamus was writing about terrible disease coming upon the mankind in the form of deadly bullet. When discovered, Rabies virus was seen as bullet-form virus. Read about Rabies and learn about it. Maybe you will need that knowledge in the future.
Rabies: The Oldest Disease, Yet Without Cure
Rabies is deadly disease caused by Rabies virus from Rhabdoviridae family. It is the oldest known disease, but science didn't find adequate therapy yet.
Short History of Rabies
Prevention is the key. There is no cure for rabbies, only prevention.
Rabies or Lyssa is deadly encephalomyelitis caused by Rabies virus. Three main signs of the disease are: agitation, hydrophobia and progressive myoparalysis. There is no cure for this illness, and thus, prevention is of great importance. Of course, not everyone with rabies infection will die. Patient is lost when the infection reaches CNS (central nervous system).
With Homer we got the name of the disease. Kardanus made an assumption it was transmitted by saliva of infected dog. Demokrit and Hippocrates were first to explain the symptoms. Zink, in the year 1804, finally proved infected dog's saliva was the way of transmission. Kugelstein (1826) defined Rabies as infection of CNS.
Louis Pasteur made it possible to prevent infection of CNS after the initial colonization of the skin (after the bite of infected animal).
Rabies Infection: Epidemiology
Source of infection is infected animal or man.
Wolves, bats, foxes, raccoons, cats and dogs are most common rabid animals. This illness is mostly seen in Southern Europe, Asia and Africa. Places with greatest number of infected animals are: area of Balkans, Iran, Southern Asia and tropical Africa.
One bite or scratch by the rabid animal is enough to trigger the infection. Colonization of the skin, and sometimes of the deeper structures, can remain localized, or it can spread. It has been proven that Rabies virus can be transmitted by aerosol too. Two men were infected that way during cave expedition. Later is has been found that cave was home for hundreds of contaminated bats. No bite wounds were ever detected on these men. Corneal transplantation is, also, one of the possible ways for transmission.
Some statistics say that over 400 000 vaccines are used for treating possible Rabies infection every year. Only in USA they use 40 000 vaccines in the same period of time. It is believed that these vaccines prevent clinical manifestations in around 390 000 men and women per year. Four hundred infected people die from Rabies every year.
Very great plague will come with the great shell,
Relief near, and the remedies very far.
What Does Rabies Virus Do to Human Body?
Rabies virus is extremely aggressive. It was created by evolution to be the winner and never to loose.
Once patient is infected by it, RV starts replicating and starts moving toward the brain. Skin is the start and brain the finish of his race. It is also our race. It is important to know that once RV enters CNS, there is no way back. While still in the skin and deeper structures, the infection can be localized by vaccine and immune serum (read about it in Rabies Prevention).
Incubation varies from two weeks to sixteen years (two to nine weeks in average). During incubation virus is replicating itself in skin cells. RV finds his way to the brain following nerves. It is unique way of traveling trough the body characteristic for this specific microbe. It enters human cells, multiplies there and destroys it. In 24 hours, 40 million of viral particles are produced.
Clinical symptoms and signs:
It is well known that every contact with animal will cause local infection, but not every contact will lead to Lyssa. As said, Lyssa is referred to encephalitis, and Rabies infection is just term for colonization of non-neurological tissues.
Prodroma (general signs and symptoms of illness): pain around the wound, fever, vomiting, feeling of weakness. All those symptoms are found in all other diseases including influenza.
To the right you can read about how Britain was fighting against Rabies in 1970s. Strict measures they had since 19th century helped Britain to become rabies-free country. To keep it that way British decided to keep every animal brought to the country by travelers in quarantine for 6 months.
Last death in Britain from this disease occurred in 1959. Women got infected in India, and died after returning to homeland.
In case of being wounded by wild animal, what should you do?
Every bite or scratch by wild animal is treated as if the animal was rabid. Wound must be well washed up, treated with alcohol and antiseptic solutions. Good disinfection right after being bitten, should stop viral particles from moving on.
After this, you must visit your doctor to receive anti-rabies vaccine and HRIG (human rabies immunoglobulin). Patient must receive HRIG and vaccine within six hours from the bite.
It is good to know that head injuries are more likely to lead to Lyssa than injuries of extremities.
Modern science is still without cure for rabies. So, prevention of simple infection with this virus going into Rabies (encephalitis) is the only thing we can do.
Lyssa: Diagnosis of Infection And Disease
There is no test to diagnose the affection by Rabies virus. The best way to do so is by performing biopsy of the brain of the animal that has bitten the patient. This is impossible most of the times. For this very reason, every patient bitten by wild animal should be treated as infected.
We can be sure it is Lyssa only when it is too late. Hydrophobia is the only sign medical expert can use as proof of infection.
Milwaukee Protocol: Possible Cure for Rabies
Milwaukee protocol uses treatment by induced coma. Coma is medicaly induced in patients. It is believed that if you give enough time to organism, it would fight off the virus. Inducing coma in patients, we actually are buying time. Virus itself is not causing physical damage to the brain.
Medical researches have shown most deaths are caused by temporary brain dysfunction with little to no damage occurring to the brain itself.
This procedure is still controversal. Read more about Milwaukee Protocol in treatment of Rabies in my other article.