Medical condition in the news this year is Rabies. Mind you, Rabies has been around for a lot longer than this year, but it has been reported that the number of infected cats and dogs has doubled year on year. (How they managed to count them I have no idea, but they probably counted the legs and divided by four!)
However, being serious as this is a serious problem, Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite. Animals most likely to transmit rabies include the most visible animal and that is the dog (and Thailand has a huge number of soi dogs) but other animals that may carry the virus include cats, bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks, most of which we do not have – but soi dogs we do have by the thousands, with the World Health Organization (WHO) stating that dog transmission is around 99 percent of the total.
Pre-exposure immunization is recommended for travellers to rabies-affected, remote areas who plan to spend a lot of time outdoors. Expats and long-term travellers to areas with a high rabies exposure risk should also be immunized.
In unvaccinated humans, rabies is almost always fatal after neurological symptoms have developed. Vaccination after exposure, PEP (post Exposure Prophylaxis), is however, highly successful in preventing the disease if administered promptly, in general within 6 days of infection. Begun with little or no delay, PEP is 100 percent effective against rabies.
The symptoms in humans includes fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, agitation, anxiety, confusion, hyperactivity, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, fear of water (hydrophobia) because of the difficulty in swallowing, hallucinations, insomnia, partial paralysis, finally coma and death.
The WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation project, recently showed that a reduction in human rabies cases is possible through a combination of interventions involving mass dog vaccination, improved access to PEP, increased surveillance and raising public awareness.
So, gentle reader, the rest is up to you, now you are aware as well. Don’t pat that dog!