In light of World Rabies Day on 28 September, we will dedicate this week’s post to Rabies: The facts, the figures, how to prevent it and our goals.
WHAT IS RABIES
Rabies is a viral disease that is nearly always fatal. Infected dogs cause more than 99% of rabies cases in humans.
In Kenya approximately 2,000 humans die from the disease annually, 40% of these are children under 15. In rural populations, this figure is 95% for children under 15. Additionally, a significant number of livestock, pets and wildlife die from rabies every year.
Rabies is a disease that is 100% preventable through vaccination. The Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries together with the World Health Organization, have started a program to eliminate the disease through:
▪ Mass dog vaccinations
▪ Educating the public
RABIES IN PEOPLE
Rabies mainly affects people in poor rural communities. People get the disease from the saliva of an animal that is infected. For example, if an infected dog bites or licks a human, that person can get rabies if the skin is broken and the saliva of the dog enters the person’s body. If the skin is not broken, the person is less likely to get sick.
Main symptoms of Rabies in Humans:
▪ Pain at the bite site
▪ A general feeling of illness
▪ Poor appetite, nausea, vomiting
▪ Muscle aches
▪ Sore throat
RABIES IN DOGS
Dogs get rabies from the bite of any animal that has rabies. Infected dogs often display clear behaviour changes: friendly animals may become shy or irritable, whereas, aggressive animals may become affectionate and docile. However if you do not know a dog it might be difficult to tell whether he is showing signs of rabies.
Main symptoms of Rabies in Dogs:
▪ Constant licking of bite site
▪ Jaw is dropped
▪ Inability to swallow, hydrophobia (extreme or irrational fear of water)
▪ Change in tone of bark
▪ Seizures, paralysis
▪ Excessive foam at the mouth