- A potentially fatal viral infection that attacks the central nervous system. The rabies virus is carried primarily by wild animals, especially bats and raccoons. It finds its way to humans by direct contact with infected wild animals or by contact with domestic animals that have contracted the virus. Most cases of rabies can be traced to animal bites, but cases have been documented where the virus was inhaled in bat caves, contracted in lab accidents, or received from transplanted donor tissue. The symptoms of rabies include fever, myalgia (aching muscles), and headache, which can progress to inflammation of the brain, confusion, seizures, paralysis, coma, and death. There is no cure for rabies once it has settled in the brain, so immediate emergency care for any suspicious animal contact is a must. Rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) shots, antibiotics, and rabies vaccine may be used immediately after contact. To prevent rabies, vaccinate all pets against the virus, and avoid contact with wild or unknown animals. A human rabies vaccine is available, but immunization with it is recommended only for people in high-risk occupations (game wardens, zookeepers, animal control officers, etc.). Patterns of occurrence: The patterns of rabies have changed dramatically over the past 100 years. Before 1960 the majority of known animal cases of rabies in the US were in domestic animals. Now the principal hosts are wild carnivores and bats. The numbers of human deaths due to rabies in the US have declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the 20th century to 1 or 2 per year in the 1990's. Contemporary prophylaxis has proven nearly 100% successful. In the US, human deaths from rabies are due to failure to seek medical assistance, usually because the individual was unaware of their exposure to rabies. Public health costs: Even as the toll in disease has declined, the public health costs of rabies detection, prevention, and control have steadily risen, exceeding $300 million annually in the US. These costs include the vaccination of companion animals, animal control programs, maintenance of rabies laboratories, and medical costs, such as those incurred for rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP).
* * *Highly fatal infectious disease that may affect all species of warm-blooded animals, including humans; transmitted by the bite of infected animals including dogs, cats, skunks, wolves, foxes, raccoons, and bats, and caused by a neurotropic species of Lyssavirus, a member of the family Rhabdoviridae, in the central nervous system and the salivary glands. The symptoms are characteristic of a profound disturbance of the nervous system, e.g., excitement, aggressiveness, and madness, followed by paralysis and death. Characteristic cytoplasmic inclusion bodies (Negri bodies) found in many of the neurons are an aid to rapid laboratory diagnosis. SYN: hydrophobia. [L. rage, fury, fr. rabio, to rave, to be mad]- dumb r. SYN: paralytic r..- furious r. the form or stage of r. in which the animal is markedly hyperactive, characterized by periods of agitation, thrashing, running, snapping, or biting.
* * *ra·bies 'rā-bēz n, pl rabies an acute virus disease of the nervous system of warm-blooded animals that is caused by a rhabdovirus (species Rabies virus of the genus Lyssavirus) transmitted in infected saliva usu. through the bite of a rabid animal and that is characterized typically by increased salivation, abnormal behavior, and eventual paralysis and death when untreated called also hydrophobia
* * *n.an acute virus disease of the central nervous system that affects all warm-blooded animals and is usually transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected dog. Symptoms appear after an incubation period ranging from 10 days to over a year and include malaise, fever, difficulty in breathing, salivation, periods of intense excitement, and painful muscle spasms of the throat induced by swallowing. In the later stages of the disease the mere sight of water induces convulsions and paralysis; death occurs within 4-5 days.Protection is possible by a rabies vaccine. Daily injections of rabies vaccine, together with an injection of rabies antiserum, may prevent the disease from developing in a person bitten by an infected animal.• rabid adj.
* * *ra·bies (raґbēz) (raґbe-ēz) [L. rabere to rage] an acute infectious disease of the central nervous system that can affect almost any mammal, caused by a virus of the genus Lyssavirus. It is usually spread by contamination with virus-laden saliva of bites from infected animals, although aerosol infection can occur via the respiratory route, transplantation, or ingestion of infected tissues. Many different mammals can be vectors. The incubation period is highly variable, depending on the size of the inoculum and the site of the bite, being shorter after a bite near the brain than after one farther away. Symptoms usually include paresthesia, pain, or a burning sensation at the site of inoculation; periods of hyperexcitability, hallucinations, delirium, and bizarre behavior alternating with periods of calmness and lucidity; painful spasms of pharyngeal and laryngeal muscles, hypersalivation, and fearfulness provoked by attempts to drink or even by the sight of fluids (hydrophobia); convulsions; meningismus; paralysis; and coma. Recovery is rare, with death usually associated with respiratory depression and cardiorespiratory failure. Formerly the term hydrophobia was used as a synonym for rabies in general rather than for just the symptom of the paralytic phase.
Medical dictionary. 2011.