WORDS LIM TECK CHOO
Facts about Rabies
- It can come from a bite. The rabies virus is spread through infected saliva. When an infected creature bites through your skin, the virus can enter the body through infected saliva.
- It’s bad for the brain—really bad. Once it enters the body, the rabies virus can quickly move via the bloodstream to the brain, where it can cause swelling and inflammation. If left untreated, this can be fatal. Most deaths from rabies occur among children.
Does Your Dog Have Rabies?
In popular media, a dog with rabies is often portrayed as foaming excessively around the mouth, but things are a little more complicated in real life. It may not be easy to tell from a glance whether a dog has rabies. There is a window of time after infection when an infected creature will not show any symptoms of illness, but could still infect other mammals in the meantime.
We can get a clue that something is wrong with our canine pet, though, if it begins to behave in a strange manner. For example, they may become more timid and move more slowly. In fact, it is more common for dogs with rabies to behave this way, compared to the stereotypical aggressive, barking behaviour shown in popular media!
The rule of thumb here is to bring our pet to a veterinary physician for a check-up if we suspect that it may be infected by rabies.
Alternatively, vaccinate our pet every year with the rabies
vaccine, and we’ll have nothing to worry about!
If we spot any stray dogs behaving strangely, especially during a rabies outbreak, we should report them to the city council. In our report, we should include description (colour, species, etc) as well as location of the stray.
How to Protect Your Dog from Rabies during an Outbreak
- Vaccinate your dog.
- Keep your dog isolated in your house compound (no going out!), so that it will not come into contact with potentially infected dogs. Isolation is necessary even after receiving a vaccination, as a dog still needs some time after a jab to build up the necessary immunity against rabies.
What If Your Dog Has Rabies?
Unfortunately, at this time there is no effective cure or treatment for rabies. Rabies is almost always fatal; infected dogs will succumb to the disease less than a week after showing signs of infection.
Prevention is the only way to protect our dogs. The vaccine offers protection for about a year, so the rabies vaccine should be given to our dogs once every year.
What to Do If You Had Been Bitten by a Rabies-Infected Dog
Don’t panic. Health experts say that the most important
thing to do is to clean the wound with soap and running water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Then, visit the hospital right away, and inform the doctor that you have been bitten by a dog.
Children may not voluntarily inform adults that they have been bitten by a dog, so if you suspect that their injury is a dog bite, ask them for confirmation first. Wash the wound as described above and send them to the hospital immediately after.