Rabies has long been considered the most terrible and fatal disease not only for animals but also for humans. Pets, including man’s best friend, a dog, are a possible source of infection.
From the point of view of medicine, this disease is caused by the rabies virus, which spreads in the host’s body along the nerve pathways and affects the salivary glands, cells of the brain (hippocampus, bulbar centres). As a result, irreversible processes occur that lead to death.
The main properties of the virus are its significant instability in the external environment, so it needs a carrier. It does not tolerate ultraviolet or sunlight well, is afraid of high temperatures, dies at 56 ° C in 15 minutes, and when it reaches 100 ° C in 2 minutes. Does not tolerate almost all types of disinfection, including ethanol. Although there is a favourable environment for its existence, these are low temperatures.
The development of the rabies virus consists of the primary damage to the body’s nerve cells and the formation of Babesh-Negri bodies. Further, the copies of the virus are transferred through the axons of neurons at a speed of 3 mm per hour. The irreversibility of the lesion is marked by the reaching of the spinal cord and the brain, which leads to the development of meningoencephalitis. The long-term presence of the virus in the nervous system causes inflammatory, degenerative and necrotic changes. The death of an animal or person occurs due to asphyxiation and cardiac arrest.
According to the level of susceptibility of animals to this virus, the following degrees are distinguished:
- High. This group includes cattle and cats.
- Average – goats, dogs, sheep.
- Low – birds.
Infection with rabies and manifestation of the disease
Direct infection with rabies occurs through a bite or salivation of the mucous membrane or skin. Not only animals infected with rabies can be dangerous, but also carriers of the virus, since the ingress of saliva can provoke illness.
The virus is detected 8-10 days before the first symptoms. Bites in the area of the hands or head are considered dangerous. It is in this area that the largest number of nerve endings is located, so the virus infects the brain faster.
An ordinary trip to nature can provoke rabies in dogs. If your pet has not been vaccinated, they can become infected from hedgehogs, rodents, foxes, and other representatives of the fauna. You can also encounter an infected animal in the park, for a walk.
Dogs and cats can tolerate the disease in different ways. Clinical symptoms in cats are violent. They are characterized by aggression towards people, other pets, they run away from home, fear of water is manifested.
The opposite may be the signs in wild animals, for example, foxes. They cease to be afraid of people, they can go to them for contact. Unusual behaviour should be the first signal that he may have rabies.
Forms of the course of stages of rabies
The disease in dogs manifests itself in three standard forms:
- Violent – lasts 6-11 days with a sequential transition of stages. First, imperceptible changes in behaviour begin, then the dog begins to hide from people, there is no appetite, abundant salivation. Then the second and third stages begin when paralysis progresses and death occurs;
- Quiet – lasts 2-4 days, with severe paralysis of the lower and hind limbs;
- Atypical – there are no pronounced symptoms, exhaustion occurs.
If the infection occurs in the human body, then after the first symptoms he dies much faster, approximately on the 5th – 8th day, sometimes this period reaches 12 days.
Classic phases of rabies disease
There are three main stages of rabies in cats and dogs that are considered typical:
- Prodromal – the pet begins to change in behaviour. The period of this phase can last a couple of hours or up to 4 days. Dogs can become aggressive or too friendly, cats can be shy and bite. Itching appears at the site of the bite.
- Arousal is an active phase, during which the animal begins to have an increased desire to move, anxiety increases, anorexia is possible, the need to gnaw on foreign objects, the dogs begin to bark strongly. During this period, dogs and cats can rush at people and bite them. Coordination of movements is impaired, convulsions are possible.
- The paralytic is a depressive phase with progressive paralysis. This stage develops 3 days before the death of the animal.
The sequence of developmental stages may not be so pronounced, which is associated with individual tolerance to rabies. It is also possible the manifestation of a recurrent form, in which, after recovery, symptoms of the disease may begin again. There is no cure for rabies in dogs and cats. Sick animals die or are euthanized.
The only preventive method is rabies vaccination. The effectiveness of vaccination is ensured only before the onset of the disease since when infected, the vaccine cannot neutralize the development of the virus.
If your cat or dog has been bitten, then it is urgent to wash the bite site. To do this, you need to take ordinary soap, which destroys the envelope of the virus and then wipe it with alcohol or iodine. And of course, your pet should be shown to the veterinarian. Do not forget that rabies is a disease that affects the brain not only of animals but also of humans, which is the main danger of rabies.