Viral infections

Rabies

Occurrence:

Endemic in most parts of the world

except Great Britain, Australia,

New Zealand, Scandinavia, parts of

the West Indies and the Pacific

Islands

Organism:

Rabies virus

Reservoir:

Wild animals, strays and pets

Transmission:

Bite of infected animals

Air-borne in restricted

circumstances

Control:

Immunization of pet dogs, control

of stray dogs

Passive and active immunization

after exposure

Prophylactic immunization of

high-risk groups

.

Rabies is a viral infection which prcaiues fatal encephalitis in man. The clinical features include convulsions, dysphagia, nervousness and anxiety, muscular paralysis and a progressive coma. The painful spasms of the throat muscles .ake the patient apprehensive of swaillowing fhrda

(hydrophobia), even his or her own saliva. Once clinical signs are established the infection is invariably fatal.

The incubation period is usually 4-6 weeks but it may be much longer, 6 months or more.

VIROLOGY

Rabies virus is a myxovirus which can be isolated and propagated in chick embryo or tissue culture from mouse and chick embryos. The freshly isolated virus ('street virus') in experimental infections has a long incubation period (1-12 weeks) and it invades both the central nervous system and the salivary glands. After serial passage in rabbit brain, the virus ('fixed virus') multiplies rapidly solely in brain with a short incubation period of 4-6 days after experimental inoculation.

EPIDEMIOLOGY

The infection is endemic in most parts of the world with the exception of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, areas of the West Indies and the Pacific Islands. The disease is most commonly encountered in parts of South East Asia, Africa and Europe.

Reservoir

Rabies is a zoonotic infection of mammals, especially wild carnivores in the forest (foxes, wolves, jackals). The urban reservoir includes stray and pet dogs, cats and other domestic mammals, and in a part of South America, vampire bats play an important role in spreading infection to fruit bats, cattle and other animals, including man.

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