What is rabies?

Rabies is an animal-borne disease caused by the rabies virus, which is also called hydrophobia or fear of water.  The disease is called water rabies because the affected patient becomes very frightened when he sees water or remembers water.

According to the research, one person dies every 10 minutes, and about 55 thousand people die of rabies every year.  An average of 40 to 50 patients die of water rabies in Bangladesh every year.  Not only humans but also about 25,000 cattle are also affected by rabies every year.  If animals such as dogs, foxes, cats, bats, bees, and monkeys are infected with the virus that causes rabies and the infected animal bites a healthy human or livestock, that human or livestock also gets infected with the disease. 

How does rabies spread?

The saliva of an infected animal contains the rabies virus.  The rabies virus slowly reaches the brain through the peripheral nerves. When the virus-carrying saliva comes into contact with the blood of a healthy person through a previous wound or bite wound or scratch. Then the aerosol released from the infected animal's saliva enters the healthy person's lungs.

As a result, the nerves that control the muscles of the pharynx and esophagus are also affected.  Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 3 months after an infected animal bites a healthy person.  However, this period can be from one week to one year.

Animals that transmit rabies

Domestic animals: dog, cat

Domestic animals (Household): Cow, Buffalo, Goat, Sheep, Pig, Donkey, Horse, Camel

Wild: Fox, Monkey, Wolf, Bat, Rat, Squirrel, Bee, Chica, Wildcat, Rabbit


Patients usually die within a week of the onset of symptoms.  No antiviral drugs can work against this virus.  There is no effective treatment for rabies except some palliative treatments.  However, there is an effective vaccine against rabies, which can prevent death if administered before symptoms appear.

There are two types of vaccines for rabies.  Depending on the severity and frequency of lesions, some require one type of vaccine, while others require both.  The sooner this rabies vaccine is administered, the better.  A total of six doses of vaccine are usually administered on days 3, 7, 14, 28, and 90 after the first day of vaccination.  The vaccine is given under the skin around the navel.  The vaccination course must be completed by receiving all vaccine doses on time.

Veterinarians, zookeepers, people living in or traveling to high-risk areas, and those who keep dogs or cats at home are vaccinated against rabies.  Such persons are given three vaccine doses on days 0, 7, and 21 or 28 and a booster dose annually.

Animal vaccination

Getting all cats and dogs, pet and non-pet, under the rabies vaccination program is also an effective way to prevent rabies.  With the combined efforts of all, this deadly disease can be overcome.

What to do if an animal bites?

  • If a suspicious or unknown animal bites or scratches the affected area, the severity of the wound and bleeding should be noted.  For this, first of all, the wound should be squeezed so the bleeding stops as soon as possible.  Then, the wound should be cleaned under running water with a tube well or tap water for at least ten minutes.  An antibacterial soap can also be used if possible.  This will help kill viruses and other bacteria and germs in the wound.
  • Once the wound is clean, the wound should be cleaned thoroughly with a potassium permanganate solution from the nearest medical center without delay to reduce the rate of post-wound infection.  Then, clean the wound thoroughly with chlorhexidine or povidone-iodine.  It destroys more than half of the rabies virus.  The wound should then be covered with an antibiotic ointment and bandaged with a sterile gauze.  But no stitches can be applied to the wound.
  • In addition to taking the necessary painkillers and food, the scratch or bite must be cleaned daily.  Be careful not to get dust and dirt on the cut area.  This regimen should be followed until the wound heals.

Apart from this, it is also inappropriate to waste time by resorting to any Kaviraj or Ojha and taking any unscientific or suboptimal treatment.


Where to get treatment for rabies?

In any government hospital, patients with this disease are identified and given necessary treatment. Upazila and district hospitals provide free rabies vaccination. 

Click the link to know the address of Registered Health Facilities in Cox's Bazar District: https://infosheba.org/en-us/articles/14480403829405


Contacts for emergency assistance:

The National Health Service: 16263

Health information or medical advice: 333-1

National Emergency Services: 999

UNHCR Hotline (support related to Rohingya people in Camps): 16670


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