A 20-year-old man from Narowal, Punjab province, Pakistan died from rabies two months after getting a dog bite, according to a report in the news source, Dawn.
According to the report, he sought medical treatment after the bite; however, the physician told him and the family that the rabies vaccine was not available at the hospital, so they would have to purchase it from the market.
The family was unable to purchase due to the cost and the young man had to do without. After two months, when he developed symptoms of rabies and his condition deteriorated, he was admitted to Mayo Hospital in Lahore. He was being treated for four days, but died on Sunday.
The death has prompted protests as protesters claim health officials of selling the vaccine at high rates in the market with mutual connivance.
Rabies is an acute viral infection that is transmitted to humans or other mammals usually through the saliva from a bite of an infected animal. It is also rarely contracted through breaks in the skin or contact with mucous membranes.
According to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, all mammals are susceptible to rabies.
What type of symptoms will it cause in humans?
Initially, like in many diseases, the symptoms are non-specific; fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. At the site of the bite there may be some pain and discomfort. Symptoms then progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is nearly 100% fatal.
What should you do if you’re exposed?
First, clean the wound well with soap and water for 5-10 minutes. This will help reduce the chance of getting other bacterial infections and some studies show it can reduce the likelihood of getting rabies.
Though technically not a medical emergency, it is important to seek medical attention quickly so proper, timely treatment is given.
If you have to shoot or otherwise kill the animal, take care not to damage the head. The brain will be required for rabies testing.
Your doctor will evaluate the type of exposure (bite, scratch), and the type of animal that you had contact with. If post-exposure treatment is required it will likely be a combination of Rabies Immune Globulin (RIG) and Rabies vaccine. The RIG is given in one dose. RIG is basically pre-formed antibody that will provide immediate protection until you respond to the vaccine. The vaccine will help your body produce antibody to the virus, but this takes some time.
According to the CDC, the RIG should, if possible, be given around the wound itself. Any remaining RIG should be given intramuscularly away from the bite. Rabies vaccine is not like the old days, 20 shots in the stomach; instead it is 4 shots in the shoulder area.
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