Rabies: Treatment and Prevention
Rabies is an aggressive and extremely detrimental disease. For years, exposure to rabies was analogous to a death sentence as there was absolutely no hope for a cure or a chance of survival after contracting it. Now, thanks to the development of many new vaccines, rabies has become a curable disease that can easily be prevented from destroying the lives of both humans and animals. However vaccinations are only a single facet in a wide spectrum of precautionary measures that can be taken to help halt the spread of this devastating disease.
Rabies is a pervasive, virulent disease that has had truly terrible effects on the world for centuries. Dating back as early as the year 2300 B.C., Mesopotamian documents describe the erratic behavior of dogs that were prone to fits of inexplicable violence and rage- what is now referred to as rabies (Jackson and Hunter 1). Rabies is just as grave an issue in today’s modern world as it was in ancient times. If left untreated, rabies wrecks havoc upon the bodies’ of both animals and humans, causing acute encephalitis and eventual painful death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1). Although rabies is extremely dangerous, thanks to scientists like Pasteur there are now various methods for treating this disease (Jackson and Hunter 5).
Rabies is classified as a zoonotic disease, which, by definition, is a disease that can be transferred from animals to humans. Currently there are two different vaccine regimens that scientists have created as a way to deal with this destructive malady: postexposure prophylaxis and preexposure prophylaxis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1). As the names imply, the key difference between these vaccines is when they are administered.
Postexposure prophylaxis is a series of vaccines given after exposure or suspected exposure to the rabies virus. Rabies can be contracted by either a bite by an infected animal or by exposure to infected mucous membranes such as saliva (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2). Directly after exposure the bite wound should be washed thoroughly with soap and water, as this has been proven effectual in removing most viral particles that may have contaminated the tissue (Jackson and Hunter 412). It is also crucial to immediately seek medical attention after exposure. Certain important information must be given to medical professionals to help them assess exactly what the risk of actual rabies exposure is in each case. As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such information includes, “the geographic location of the incident, the type of animal that was involved, how the exposure occurred (provoked or unprovoked), the vaccination status of animal, and whether the animal can be safely captured and tested for rabies” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2). The actual postexposure vaccine regimen consists of one vaccine of human rabies immune globulin,...