Rabies In Children : Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment


Last Updated : 2/5/2003
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Dr. Ira Shah

What is Rabies


Rabies is an ancient disease affecting human kind since times innumerable caused by rabies virus. Rabies is a fatal disease caused by bite of a rabid dog. Two type of clinical rabies are described – “furious” type which affects majority of the patients and the “paralytic” type which affects around 20 percent of patients. Patients die due to affection of the brain.

How does Rabies spread


Rabies is a disease, transmitted to humans by the bite of infected rabid animals most often dogs. It can also spread rarely by bite of infected cats, foxes, monkeys, rodents. The rabies virus is present in the saliva of these infected animals and can rarely spread through lick, scratch of infected animal. Infection also occurs in rare cases through inhalation of virus as from bats and rarely through organ transplantation.

What are the

symptoms of Rabies


After a bite from a rabid dog, the patient may remain alright for 20 to 180 days. Most of the time numbness or cramps occur at the bite site. After this period, patient generally get high grade fever, acute headache, uneasiness, phobia of water (hydrophobia), phobias of wind and fans and the child will behave abnormally and even become violent (furious rabies). Patient cannot stand or stay in one spot. With progression, it can lead to coma and death between five to twenty-one days. The paralytic rabies is characterized by paralysis, coma and death.

How is
diagnosis of Rabies
made ?

Diagnosis of Rabies is mainly based on patient history, symptoms and signs. Diagnosis can be confirmed by demonstration of the virus under electron microscope from a biopsy from the brain of by antibody tests in the various body fluids.

How is Rabies treated

Once a child develops symptoms of rabies, one cannot cure the disease and death is very likely. However one can prevent rabies by taking the rabies vaccine. If a child gets bitten by a dog, the wound should be washed with running tap water and soap for 10 minutes. Antiseptic should be applied to the wound and tetanus injection may be required if not received. Child should be given rabies immunoglobulin and rabies vaccine. Rabies vaccine can be given on Day 0, 1, 3, 7, 21 and 90 days. If the dog dies, entire course should be given. If the dog survives after 10 days, then there is no need to continue the anti rabies vaccine (ARV) after that.

Contributor Information and Disclosures Dr. Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India

First Created : 1/3/2001
Last Updated : 2/5/2003
Contributor Information and Disclosures

Last Updated : 2/5/2003
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