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Rabies

Rabies disease picture

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

 

The rabies virus is transmitted through saliva or brain/nervous system tissue. You can only get rabies by coming in contact with these specific bodily excretions and tissues.  It’s important to remember that rabies is a medical urgency but not an emergency. Decisions should not be delayed.  Wash any wounds immediately. One of the most effective ways to decrease the chance for infection is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.

For people who have never been vaccinated against rabies previously, post-exposure anti-rabies vaccination should always include administration of both passive antibody and vaccine. The combination of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) and vaccine is recommended for both bite and non-bite exposures, regardless of the interval between exposure and initiation of treatment.People who have been previously vaccinated or are receiving pre-exposure vaccination for rabies should receive only vaccine.

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Rabies Vaccine Hesitancy and Deaths Among Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women — Vietnam, 2015–2016

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During 2015–2016, six probable cases of rabies were reported among pregnant and breastfeeding women in Vietnam. None of the six patients sought post-exposure prophylaxis after exposure, even though studies have found no increased risk to the fetus among pregnant women.

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Potential Confounding of Diagnosis of Rabies in Patients with Recent Receipt of Intravenous Immune Globulin

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This report describes six patients who met the case definition for human rabies, but did not receive a rabies diagnosis due to having been considered passively immunized through receipt of intravenous immune globulin.

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Rabies Disease and Rabies Vaccine

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This information paper describes Rabies disease and vaccine to prevent it.

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Immunization Recommendations for Disaster Response Operations

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This information paper provides immunization recommendations and resources for Department of Defense (DoD) personnel supporting disaster response operations, both in CONUS and OCONUS.

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