Health officials in Thailand are urging people who work with animals– veterinarians, staff at pet hospitals and animal labs, and caretakers of strays–to ensure they are vaccinated against rabies as the number of animal cases have steadily been rising since 2015.
According to The Nation, there were 330 reported cases of rabies-affected animals in 2015, 614 in 2016 and 843 in 2017. Dogs were the most infected (89 per cent), followed by cattle (6.6 per cent), cats (3.6 per cent) and others (0.7 per cent).
Rabies caused five human deaths in 2015, 14 in 2016 and eight in 2017.
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. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are the likely suspects. Other animals like otters and ferrets are also high risk. Mammals like rabbits, squirrels, rodents and opossums are rarely infected.
They can appear very aggressive, attacking for no reason. Some may act very tame. They may looks like they are foaming at the mouth or drooling because they cannot swallow their saliva. Sometimes the animal may stagger (this can also be seen in distemper). Not long after this point they will die. Most animals can transmit rabies days before showing symptoms.
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.
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Post-exposure treatment consists of a combination of Rabies Immune Globulin (RIG) and Rabies vaccine.
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