What is Rabies ?
Rabies is a serious infection caused by a virus transmitted through a bite from the infected animal. Bats are the most common source of human rabies infection. Other possible animals are skunks. raccoons, foxes, dogs and cats.
Initially there may be no symptoms. But weeks to months post bite, infected person will have flu-like symptoms, pain, fever, fatigue and irritability. After which , they may have seizures, agitation, confusion, cerebral dysfunction, hallucinations, paralysis and even death.
Rabies vaccine is made from killed rabies virus and will not cause rabies. It is given to people who are at high risk of rabies and also after a post exposure to rabies.
People at higher risk of contracting rabies include vets, animal handlers, laboratory staff handling rabies virus, rabies biologic workers and staff who may have contact with rabies virus. It also applies to international traveller who is going to places where rabies is rampant.
Pre-exposure schedule for rabies vaccination is 3 dosage:
- 1st dose as appropriate
- 2nd dose : 7 days after 1st dose
- 3rd dose: 21 or 28 days post 1st dose
For laboratory workers who are repeatedly exposed to rabies, they may need a booster when the immunity declines.
Post-exposure rabies vaccination:
After a bite from a rabies infected animal, wash and clean the wound thoroughly and see a doctor immediately. For someone who has not been vaccinated with rabies vaccine before should get 4 doses of vaccine. One dose immediately, then additional doses on 3rd,7th and 14th day. In addition, a rabies immune globulin should be given with the first dose of rabies vaccine.
For those who have rabies vaccinated before, post exposure vaccination is 2 doses. 1st dose immediately and second dose 3 days later . Immune globulin is not necessarily.
What are the side effects of rabies vaccine?
Minor side effects from vaccine include redness, swelling, soreness at site of injection. Some may also feel headache , dizziness, muscle ache, abdomen pain and nausea.
Moderate side effects: In 6% of patients who have rabies vaccine, they may develop hives and pain in the joints. Other nervous disorder like Gullain Barre syndrome is very rare.
Very very rarely people develop severe allergic anaphylactic reactions to the vaccine.