Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Beware Rabies, the Disease Many Forget About



Beware Rabies, the Disease Many Forget About

Beware Rabies, the Disease Many Forget About

This article is the first in a series on health issues provided by World Access Medical

Services.

In Cambodia diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and giardia are well known among

the general community. Rabies, on the other hand, is often forgotten.

Rabies is considered a problem both in rural and urban areas in Cambodia, and can

be transmitted by a number of animals. The disease is transmitted by being bitten

or licked by a rabid animal; i.e. an animal which already has the disease. The virus

resides in the animal's saliva and enters a person's body when the rabid animal bites

or licks an open cut or wound.

Occasionally rabies is contracted by breathing in the virus from close contact with

infected animals. Rabies can also be spread through the saliva of a rabid person.

In Cambodia, rabies is mainly transmitted by dogs and monkeys. However, any fur-bearing

animal has the potential to be infected.

The Disease

Rabies is a viral disease which attacks the brain. The virus travels via the nerve

trunks upwards to the central nervous system, where it proliferates in the nerve

cells of the brain. Affected cells can be either irritated or depressed, leading

to "furious" rabies, or "dumb" rabies.

The incubation period varies from 2 weeks to 4 years. There have been cases reported

up to 19 years following exposure. The average incubation period is six to 12 weeks.

In general the larger the bite and the nearer it is to the brain, the shorter the

incubation period.

Once symptoms appear, the disease progresses quickly with fever, anxiety, insomnia,

and often pain or numbness at the site of the bite. Painful spasms of the throat

muscles then follow. The fear center in the brain becomes overactive and the afflicted

person becomes terrified. The spasms spread to the respiratory muscles, leading to

breathing difficulties.

Because it becomes very painful to swallow, the infected person dribbles and often

does "froth at the mouth." "Hydrophobia" (fear of water) occurs

because people with rabies are unable to swallow water. A spasm can also be provoked

by air blowing on the affected person's face-"aeropho-bia."

Treatment

Intensive care in western countries can prolong life with the use of life support

systems. The treatment involves painkillers and sedation. As a rule, once symptoms

set in, the person will die from brain damage no matter what is done, usually within

a week, although bat-transmitted rabies victims survive longer.

Prevention

Rabies can be prevented by first aid, and either pre- or post-exposure rabies vaccine.

Vaccinating your pets, of course, will lower the threat of becoming infected at all.

Pre-exposure:

This is a course of three injections given over a period of three to four weeks,

and is considered effective for two years. This does not eliminate the need for post-exposure

vaccination, but has the following advantages:

  1. Your chances of survival are much higher.
  2. You will not need rabies immuneglobulin (a blood-based product).
  3. You will need only two post-exposure injections as opposed to five or six.
  4. Allows you slightly more time to reach a doctor or hospital.
  5. Post-exposure:

First Aid: The single most important prevention is first aid treatment of the

wound. Treat all wounds as follows:

  1. Immediately wash and flush with soap and water, or water alone. Do this for a

    long period of time-20 minutes if possible.

  2. Then apply either 40-70 percent alcohol or tincture of iodine.
  3. Seek Medical Aid
  4. If you have not had pre-exposure vaccination, anti-rabies serum must be injected

    into and around the wound, and intramuscularly.

  5. The wound must not be stitched.
  6. Start a course of post-exposure rabies vaccination (the preferred post-exposure

    rabies vaccine is a course of human diploid cell rabies vaccine, HDCV).

  7. Stop taking the anti-malarial drug Chloroquine, as this interferes with the absorption

    of the vaccine.

  8. If your tetanus injections are not up to date (needed every 5 years), obtain

    one.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Nearly 2,000 detained for Phnom Penh curfew breach

    Nearly 2,000 people were detained in the capital for violating the curfew imposed by the government and Phnom Penh Municipal Administration. Municipal police spokesman San Sokseyha told The Post on May 16 that people were detained in two phases. In phase one, the government locked down Phnom

  • Jab drive announced for two more Phnom Penh districts

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration on May 15 announced a first-dose novel-coronavirus vaccination campaign for Boeung Keng Kang and Sen Sok districts from May 18-31, and a follow-up second-shot drive from June 1-15. Twenty vaccination sites have been set up in a combined 13 communes across both