Rabies is a highly infectious viral disease of most mammals. The main route of transmission in man is through contact with the saliva of a rabid dog. One does not need to be bitten to become infected. The virus can infect you through contact with mucous membranes ,abrasions and cuts. Rabies is invariably fatal if left untreated.
When infected saliva comes into contact with a wound ,the virus enters the body and replicates in the muscles or connective tissues. It then moves via the nerves up the spinal cord and into the brain. The victim is asymptomatic until the virus reaches the brain. This can take between 2 weeks and 9 months to happen. Symptoms include the following : Anxiety, Depression, Partial Paralysis, Excitation, Aggression, Hypersalivation and Difficulty in Swallowing.
Rabies unfortunately is diagnosed in animals by a post mortem examination of the brain.
If one is exposed to the virus one should immediately wash the area well with soap and water. All cases should be reported to a medical clinician and an attempt made to establish whether the animal has been vaccinated against this disease.
Treatment involves the administration of a vaccine and in severe cases, immunoglobulins.
Never touch or caress a strange and/or injured animal or one that appears to be sick. Report all suspect cases to your nearest SPCA, State Veterinarian or to the Police.