What is rabies?
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that is spread in the saliva of infected animals. All mammals can get rabies. People usually get rabies from licks, bites, or scratches from infected dogs and cats. Rabies affects the central nervous system, ultimately causing brain disease and death. Once symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, so prevention is especially important. The most proven and effective way of preventing rabies is through rabies vaccination of animals.
How do you know it's rabies?
Symptoms in animals and humans are the same. Rabies affects the brain, it can cause fear of water, animals often are paralyzed, change in behaviour, the animal attacks objects and people, excessive salivation, and lack of coordination.
In animals, rabies is diagnosed using the direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) test, which looks for the presence of rabies virus antigens in brain tissue. In humans, several tests are required.
Rapid and accurate laboratory diagnosis of rabies in humans and other animals is essential for timely administration of post-exposure prophylaxis. Within a few hours, a diagnostic laboratory can determine whether or not an animal is rabid and inform the responsible medical personnel. The laboratory results may save a patient from unnecessary physical and psychological trauma, and financial burdens, if the animal is not rabid.
Who is at risk?
Every person who gets bitten by an animal is at risk of getting rabies. Children are at higher risk as they often play with animals and usually don’t report animal bites. It is recommended to supervise children closely when playing with animals. Some pets especially cats and dogs, are not always vaccinated against rabies, which poses a threat of rabies.
What can I do to stay safe?
Make sure your pets receive their annual rabies vaccination. Animals bought on the side of the road are never vaccinated, and therefore high risk. The LSPCA strongly discourages buying an animal from the side of the road, instead, dogs and cats can be adopted from the LSPCA for MK 6,000, all adopted dogs are vaccinated and checked by the vet. For more information call 0995027815 or visit www.lilongwespca.org.
What to do when bitten?
Act quickly if an animal bites or scratches you: Wash the bite wound for at least 15 minutes with soap and water. Alternatively, you can also wash the bite wound with methylated spirit or alcohol. See a health care provider right away, even if you don’t feel sick or your wound does not look serious. To prevent rabies as it may be recommended by the health practitioner, you may need to start a series of vaccinations immediately. When you suspect a rabies case, call the LSPCA TNM Toll Free number 172.