What is Rabies?

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Rabies is one of the oldest diseases known to man. Once the disease appears in man or animals, death is almost certain. There is no cure for it. Just what is this terrible disease?

Rabies is a disease that infects the brain and spinal cord, which is why it is so harmful to the life of the body. The infection is caused by a virus, which means a germ too small to be seen with the ordinary microscope. 

The rabies virus can infect all warm-blooded animals, but man receives it most often when bitten by a dog, an effort is always made to find the dog and examine it to see if it might have rabies. It just doesn't pay to take chances!

It isn't too easy to tell when a dog has been infected with rabies because it takes such a long time for the disease to show up-usually four to six weeks. At first the dog is quiet, has a fever, and isn't interested in food. Then it becomes excited. Saliva froths from the mouth. It growls and barks, and is likely to bite. After these symptoms appear, it's pretty hopeless. The dog will die in about three to five days.

In human beings, the disease begins much as it does in the dog. A man who is infected by rabies will be quiet at first. He will have feverand feel strange. Soon he feels his muscles draw strongly together. When he tries to drink, the muscles of his mouth and throat tighten, as if he were in a spasm. The muscle spasms are due to an actual fear of the water, so rabies was given another name- "hydrophobia" This means "fear of  water," and is not a true description of the disease.

Death comes from rabies usually when the breathing muscles go into spasm. As you can see, with this disease prevention is of the utmost importance. The bite area must be cleaned thoroughly, and a serum is given within three days of the bite. This acts against the virus before it has a chance to increase and attack the brain. Injections are given each day for a period of two or three weeks. All of this is to prevent the virus from taking hold in the body.

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