Rabies

Rabies

Definition:

It is an acute fatal infectious disease of worm-blooded animals and man characterized by abnormal behaviors, encephalomyelitis and progressive ascending paralysis ending with death.

Etiology:

The disease is caused by neurotropic RNA lyssa virus of family Rhabdoviridae. It is classified as genotype 1, serotype 1 in this genus.

Epizootiology:

Susceptibility:

  • All worm-blooded animals are susceptible.
  • Carnivores and bats are the primary vector species.
  • Asymptomatic carriers are possible in species adapted to rabies.
  • Bats are symptomless carriers in which replication of the virus occurs in fatty tissues without invasion of nervous system.

Sources of infection:

  • The virus is present in saliva of infected animal 2-5 days before appearance of clinical signs.
  • Domestic and wild carnivores as well as bats are the main sources of infection especially stray dogs and cats.
  • Vampire bats secrete the virus for several months.

Transmission:

  1. Common routes of transmission:
  • Bite of an infected animal where saliva is deposited in the bite wound.
  • Contamination of skin wounds or lacerations by fresh saliva of an infected animal.
  • Not all bites from rabid animals result in infection because the virus is not always present in saliva and may not gain entrance to the wound if clothing or the coat of the animal wipes saliva.
  1. Less common routes of transmission:
  • Aerosol infection
  • ingestion

Pathogenesis:

After introduction of the virus into a bite wound, limited multiplication may occur in the epithelial cells and monocytes. The virus passes through sensory nerves to skin. A virus journey within axons of nerves is at a rate of 0.5-15 inches per day. It may take weeks before the virus reaches the spinal cord motor neurons of the CNS. This is why post-exposure vaccination is possible. The virus proliferates rapidly in spinal cord and brain and travels centrifugally to the salivary glands through the axon of trigeminal, facial, olfactory and glosso-pharyngeal nerves.

Incubation period: 3-8 weeks and it depends upon:

  • Site of the wound bite.
  • Virulence of the virus.
  • Quantities of the virus.

Clinical signs:

  • Dogs
  • Prodromal phase:
  • Stop eating and drinking.
  • Friendly dogs become irritable.
  • Stimulation to the urogenital tract with frequent urination and erection.
  • Furious phase:
  • Hypersensitivity to external stimuli and become aggressive.
  • Animal loses all caution and fear of natural enemies.
  • Infected dogs frequently roam streets and high ways.
  • Infected dogs bite other animals, people and any moving objects.
  • Infected dogs swallow foreign objects as stones.
  • Infected dogs rarely live beyond 10 days from onset of the signs.
  • Paralytic form:
  • Paralysis of the throat and masseter muscles associated with profuse salivation and inability to swallow.
  • Dropping of the lower jaw is a common sign.
  • Paralysis progresses rapidly to all parts of the body with coma and death.
  • Cattle
  1. Stop eating and drinking with drop in milk production.
  2. Pharyngeal paralysis and salivation.
  • Characteristic bellowing sound.
  1. Animal become aggressive and attack other animals and man.
  2. Sexual excitement.
  3. Paralysis of the anus and bladder also occurs.
  • Horses
  • Colic, rolling and chewing of foreign materials.
  • Horse may bite viciously.
  • Intense sexual excitement occurs.
  • Self-infected wounds especially in the genitalia.
  • Ataxia and paresis, hyperesthesia, pharyngeal paresis or paralysis, tail, perineal and anal sphincter hypotonia, circling and hyper salivation.

Control:

Control of rabies depends upon:

  • Elimination of stray dogs.
  • Reduction of excess number of wild life vectors.
  • Mass vaccination of dogs.

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