10 myths about rabies


    A little over a year ago, I had to deal with such an unpleasant thing as a suspected rabies infection. The article on vaccinations for travelers, read yesterday, reminded me of the case - in particular, the absence of references to rabies in it, although it is extremely widespread (especially in Russia, Asia, Africa, and America) and a very insidious virus. Unfortunately, the risks associated with it are not always given due importance.

    So what is rabies? This is an incurable viral disease that is transmitted through the saliva or blood of infected animals and people. In the vast majority of cases, the bite of an animal that carries the virus leads to infection.

    What can an average Russian citizen say without a word about rabies? Well, there is such a disease. In connection with it, rabid dogs are most often remembered. The older generation will most likely still add that in the event of a bite of such a dog, they will have to do 40 injections in the stomach and forget about alcohol for several months. That’s probably all.

    Let's see why such an attitude to this disease is extremely dangerous.

    Surprisingly, not everyone knows that rabies is a 100% fatal disease. If the virus has got into your body in one way or another, the “countdown” is activated: gradually multiplying and spreading, the virus moves along nerve fibers to the spinal cord and brain. His "journey" can last from several days or weeks to several months - the closer the bite to the head, the less time you are given. All this time you will feel completely normal, but if you allow the virus to reach its goal, you are doomed. When this happens, you will not yet feel the symptoms of the disease, but you will already become its peddler: the virus will appear in the secretions of the body. After this, rabies becomes possible to detect by analysis, but it is too late to treat it at this stage. As the virus multiplies in the brain, at first, the innocuous first symptoms begin to manifest, within a few days developing into rapidly progressive inflammation of the brain and paralysis. There is always one outcome - death.

    Rabies treatment is literally a race against death. A disease will not develop only if before the virus enters the brain, it is possible to apply the rabies vaccine and give it time to act. This vaccine is an inactivated (dead) rabies virus that is injected into the body to “educate” the immune system against the active virus. Unfortunately, such “training” takes time to produce antibodies, and the virus, meanwhile, continues to make its way to your brain. It is believed that the vaccine is not too late to apply up to 14 days after the bite - but it is better to do this as soon as possible, preferably on the first day. If you seek help in a timely manner and receive a vaccine, the body will form an immune response and destroy the virus “on the march”. If you paused and the virus managed to penetrate the brain before the formation of the immune response, you can look for yourself a place in the cemetery. Further development of the disease will no longer be stopped.

    As you see, this disease is extremely serious - and the myths prevailing in Russia look on this subject all the more strange.

    Myth number 1 : Only dogs tolerate rabies. Sometimes cats and (less often) foxes are also called possible peddlers.

    The sad reality is that rabies, besides the named ones, can be many other animals (more precisely, mammals and some birds) - raccoons, cattle, rats, bats, roosters, monkeys, jackals, and even squirrels or hedgehogs.

    Myth number 2 : a rabid animal can be easily distinguished by inappropriate behavior (the animal moves strangely, saliva flows, it rushes at people).

    Unfortunately, this is far from always true. The incubation period of rabies is quite long, and the saliva of the carrier of the infection becomes infectious 3-5 days before the onset of the first symptoms. In addition, rabies can occur in a “quiet” form, while the animal often loses fear and goes out to people, without externally showing any threatening symptoms. Therefore, when bitten by any wild or simply unknown animal (even if it looked healthy), the only correct action is to see a doctor for an anti-rabies vaccine as soon as possible, preferably on the first day.

    Myth number 3 : if the wound from a bite is small, just wash it with soap and disinfect.

    Perhaps the most dangerous misconception. Rabies virus, in fact, does not tolerate contact with alkaline solutions - but in order to penetrate the tissues of the body, any damage to the skin is enough for it. There is no way to find out if he managed to do this before flushing the wound.

    Myth number 4 : the doctor will prescribe 40 painful injections in your stomach, and you will have to go to these injections every day.

    It really was, but in the last century. Currently used rabies vaccines require from 4 to 6 injections in the shoulder with an interval of several days, plus optionally another injection at the site of the bite.

    In addition, the doctor (infectious disease specialist or rabbiologist) can decide on the inappropriateness of vaccination, based on the circumstances of the bite and the local epidemiological situation (it is estimated whether it was an animal, domestic or wild, where and how it happened, whether it was recorded in this area cases of rabies and so on).

    Myth number 5 : The rabies vaccine has many side effects and you can even die from it.

    There are indeed side effects to this type of vaccine - this is the main reason why rabies is not vaccinated in most cases, but only if there is a risk of infection. These "side effects" are rather unpleasant, but most often they are not very long, and enduring them is not such a big price to stay alive. It is impossible to die from vaccinations themselves, but if you don’t get them after a bite of a suspicious animal or skip re-vaccination, you can even die from rabies.

    Myth number 6 : if you catch or kill an animal that has bitten you, then you do not need to be vaccinated, because doctors can do the analysis and find out if it was rabies.

    This is only half true. If the animal is caught and does not show signs of rabies, it can be quarantined, but this will not save you from vaccination. Doctors can make a decision to stop it only if the animal does not get sick and dies within 10 days - but here you can be trapped by such a zapadlo as atypical rabies. This is when a sick animal lives much longer than those same 10 days - and all this time it has been a carrier of the virus, without showing external symptoms of the disease. Comments are redundant. However, it should be noted that atypical rabies is extremely rare according to statistics - but still it is better to bring the vaccination course to the end than to get into the very statistics and prove after that there was a tragic coincidence.

    In the case when the animal is killed on the spot or caught and euthanized - such an analysis is possible through the study of sections of the brain, but how long it will be done (and whether it will) - very much depends on where everything happened and where you turned for help . In most cases, it is safer to immediately start a vaccination course and stop it if rabies is not confirmed by laboratory testing.

    If the animal that bit you has escaped, this is an unambiguous indication for vaccination, and only a doctor should assess the degree of risk here. Of course, taking the vaccination course may well turn out to be reinsurance - because you have nowhere to find out for sure if the animal was infected with rabies. But if vaccination is not done, and the animal was still a carrier of the virus, then you are guaranteed a painful death in a few weeks or months.

    Myth number 7 : If you have been bitten by an animal that has a rabies vaccine, vaccination is not required.

    This is true, but not always. The vaccine should be, firstly, documented (recorded in the certificate of vaccination), and secondly, should not be expired or delivered less than a month before the incident. In addition, even if everything is fine according to the documents, but the animal behaves inappropriately, you should consult a doctor and follow his recommendations.

    Myth number 8 : rabies can be infected if you touch a sick animal, or if it scratched or licked you.

    This is not entirely true. The rabies virus is not able to exist in the external environment, therefore, it cannot be on the skin / coat of an animal or on its claws (for example, feline). Here in the saliva he feels great - but he is not able to penetrate through intact skin. In the latter case, however, you should immediately wash it with soap and disinfect the mucous area of ​​the skin, after which you still need to see a doctor and let him decide on the need for further action.

    Myth number 9 : alcohol should not be consumed during and after rabies vaccination, otherwise it will neutralize the effect of the vaccine.

    There is no scientific basis for allegations of alcohol blocking antibody production during rabies vaccination. Such a horror story is common only in the countries of the former USSR. What is characteristic, outside the former socialist camp, doctors did not hear about such prohibitions, and the instructions for rabies vaccines do not contain any contraindications related to alcohol.

    This horror story goes back to the last century, when vaccines of the previous generation were used, which really pricked in the stomach for 30-40 days in a row. Skipping another injection, both in those days and now, is fraught with nullifying the effect of vaccination, and drunkenness is one of the common causes of failure to appear to the doctor.

    Myth number 10: Rabies is treatable. The Americans cured the sick girl according to the Milwaukee Protocol after the onset of symptoms of the disease.

    This is very controversial. Indeed, such an extremely complex and expensive (about $ 800,000) method for the treatment of rabies at the stage of symptom manifestation exists, but a few cases of its successful use have been confirmed worldwide. In addition, science still cannot explain how exactly they differ from a much larger number of cases when treatment under this protocol has not yielded results. Therefore, you should not rely on the Milwaukee Protocol - the probability of success there fluctuates at the level of 5%. The only officially recognized and effective way to avoid rabies in case of risk of infection is still only timely vaccination.

    In conclusion, I will tell an instructive story. I live in Germany, and here, like in many neighboring countries, there has been no "local" rabies in animals (and, accordingly, cases of human infection) thanks to the efforts of the government and health organizations. But the “imported” sometimes leaks out. The last case was about 8 years ago: a man was admitted to the hospital with complaints of high fever, spasms during swallowing and problems with coordination of movements. In the process of collecting an anamnesis, he mentioned that 3 months before the onset of the disease he returned from a trip to Africa. He was immediately tested for rabies - and the result was positive. The patient then still managed to tell that during the trip he was bitten by a dog, but he did not attach any importance to this and did not go anywhere. This man soon died in an isolated ward.

    Do not neglect animal bites, even domestic ones, if they are not vaccinated - especially in countries where rabies is common. Only a doctor can make a competent decision about the need for vaccination in each case. Putting it on its own, you put your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk.

    Also popular now: