Rabies is a viral disease that can spread to humans by animals. It infects the nerves and causes sudden encephalitis (swelling/pain of the brain).
The disease is almost always fatal (people and animals die from it) when the symptoms start. There is no treatment and cure for it when the symptoms occur. However, people (and pets) who are treated with vaccines soon after becoming infected have a very good chance to survive.
The disease is transmitted through the saliva and the blood. The usual form of getting it is a bite of a rabid mammal. Pets, like dogs need to be vaccinated against it, in most countries.
There is no cure for rabies. There is a vaccine (medicine to try to prevent rabies) against it. The vaccine was first developed by Louis Pasteur and Pierre Paul Émile Roux in 1885. This vaccine used a live virus grown in rabbits, and weakened (through drying it). The first person to be vaccinated was Joseph Meister (a 9-year-old boy who had been bitten by a dog). Vaccines similar to this are still used today, but other vaccines (growing the virus using cell cultures) are more used.
There is also a form of treatment that can be done once a person has been bitten. It needs to be done within 6 days of being bitten. There is no way to know whether someone is infected, until it's too late. Treatment starts with washing the wound. This is done to reduce the number of virus particles that enter the body. Often patients are given one dose of immunoglobulin and a certain number of vaccines, over a determined period of time, usually a month.
- CDC. Human-to-human transmission of rabies via a corneal transplant -- France. MMWR 1980;29:25-6
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- Manbir Online
- CNN News report of CDC news release - July 1, 2004.
- Associated Press report: Families of rabies transplant victims react to deaths - July 3, 2004[permanent dead link]
- BBC News Europe Report: Romanian killer bear had rabies - 19 October, 2004.
- First Unvaccinated Rabies Survivor Goes Home - January 3, 2005
- Rabies Information Archived 2008-02-28 at the Wayback Machine
- Rabies - A Comprehensive Guide Archived 2018-08-05 at the Wayback Machine
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization factsheet on Rabies
- World Health Organization factsheet on Rabies vaccine
- Rules for importing pets to the United Kingdom Archived 2005-02-07 at the Wayback Machine
- A Rabies-Free World, Inc. Archived 2005-12-19 at the Wayback Machine - NPO dedicated to fighting rabies worldwide
- Rules for importing pets to the European Union Archived 2007-10-10 at the Wayback Machine
- Rules for importing pets to the European Union Q&A Archived 2007-07-02 at the Wayback Machine
- Aspen Skunk Rabies Research Archived 2006-03-13 at the Wayback Machine
- "When Raccoons Attack" from Field & Stream Online Archived 2006-11-07 at the Wayback Machine
- “Only Known Unvaccinated Rabies Survivor Thrives” (USA Today) Progress report on the one known survivor of rabies