Treatments for Rabies

There are no specific treatments for Rabies. A few people have been able to overcome the disease, but in most cases it has proved fatal. Hence anyone who has suffered an animal bite must receive treatment to prevent the infection from developing.

Rabies may appear similar to certain other serious diseases like meningitis. If the doctor suspects rabies or any other infection of the central nervous system, he may advise hospitalization. Here a number of tests will be performed to determine the cause and nature of the infection.

Individuals who have been bitten by a rabid animal must receive a series of shots to prevent the virus from taking hold. In case, the animal that caused the bite is not to be found, it is safer to assume that it was rabid. However other factors such as the species of animal and the situation in which the bite took place, will also be taken into account. The rabies shots include the rabies immune globulin which is administered to the area of the bite as soon as possible after exposure. Then a series of injections are administered to the arm. This continues for a period of 14 days and enables the body to find and destroy the virus.

There are certain medications that may interact with the rabies vaccine. These include medications for rheumatoid arthritis and malaria. Therefore it is advisable to make a note of all the medications you are currently on and provide any such information to your doctor.

There are some ways to determine if the animal that bit you is infected with rabies before starting the rabies shots. If the animal is found to be healthy, the shots are not required.

  • In case of bites by dogs, cats and ferrets, they can be kept under observation for a period of 10 days to check if they develop symptoms of rabies. In case the animal is still healthy after the observation period, it means that it doesn’t have rabies and you will not require rabies shots. Other types of pets and farm animals may be handled depending on the particular case.
  • Wild animals that are captured such as bats that enter the home can be killed and tested for the disease. The brain of the animal may be examined for traces of the rabies virus.
  • In case of animals that are not found, it is important to consult your doctor and local health authorities. If it is unlikely that the animal was rabid, then rabies shots are not required. However, in many cases, it is safest to assume that the animal is rabid and that you should receive rabies shots.

There are some self-care measures you can take in case an animal bite occurs:

  • If the animal is domesticated, try to obtain the owner’s details. This will enable the public health authorities in the area to monitor the animal in a better manner.
  • In case of a wild animal or stray animal, contact the animal control authorities. They will then try to catch the animal and examine it.
  • In case of an encounter with a bat, the windows and doors should be shut after individuals within are evacuated. The local animal control authorities must be contacted so that they can capture the bat.
  • In case of bats, there does not have to be a visible bite to determine exposure. Therefore it is important to receive treatment in case of any encounter with a bat such as waking up and finding a bat in the room or finding a bat in the room of an unattended child.

Frequently asked questions
  1. Wolfgang Haupt, Rabies – risk of exposure and current trends in prevention of human cases, Vaccine, Volume 17, Issues 13–14, January 1999, Pages 1742-1749, ISSN 0264-410X, 10.1016/S0264-410X(98)00447-2.
  2. George M. Baer, 1 - The History of Rabies, In: Alan C. Jackson and William H. Wunner, Editor(s), Rabies (Second Edition), Academic Press, Oxford, 2007, Pages 1-22,I, ISBN 9780123693662, 10.1016/B978-012369366-2/50003-8.