Rabies is a virus that is usually transmitted to people by the bite or scratch from an infected animal- this is usually a dog but can be a cat, bat or other animal. The incubation period from time of infection to symptoms is from 3-12 weeks. The first symptoms can be a sensory change around the wound site, with fever, headache and lethargy. Later symptoms include hallucinations, maniacal behaviours leading to paralysis and coma. Rabies is almost always fatal due to respiratory paralysis.
Rabies can occur all over the World and is present is some of the bat populations in the UK.
Rabies vaccination requires 3 vaccines on the second after 78 days and 3rd after 28 days.
A booster dose will depend on ongoing risk.
The course of vaccine will buy time for anyone bitten. A full risk assessment should be performed to plan the need for further treatment with immunoglobulin for Rabies but this can be delayed for a fully immunised patient by up to 24 hours post bite/scratch.
Rabies is a notifiable disease.
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