When I think of rabies, I either think of Stephen King's "Cujo" or a disease "out there, somewhere..." that causes a terrible death to anyone infected.
The truth is that rabies kills more than 55,000 people every year, mostly in poor, developing countries where people live in slums, surrounded by wild dogs, and cannot afford the $50 vaccination regime that could save their lives.
What is rabies, exactly?
Rabies is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the central nervous system of it's victims. If a person is bitten and rabies is suspected, a series of vaccinations can be given and the person is monitored carefully. The bitten individual usually responds very well to the vaccinations. It is fatal, however, once symptoms appear. Most humans are infected through the saliva of dog bites, bats, foxes, raccoons or other warm blooded animals.
In developing counties, dogs are mainly to blame.
Angola currently has an epidemic of rabies, seen mostly in children (rabies develops in children faster than adults) and at least 83 children have already died in the past couple of months. Many more may have succumbed to the disease but did not receive medical care, therefore the exact number in this epidemic is unknown. Most children with rabies are living in the slums of the capital, Luanda, and are victims of dog bites, from rabies infected pacts of dogs that prowl the slums.
The city has been unable to destroy the dogs due to lack of money and manpower, as well as veterinary facilities. The people of Angola are simply too poor to afford the vaccinations and even if they could - the country's biggest hospital ran out of them.
It seems like our poorest, most vulnerable of people face even more barriers than ever.
Here in the United States, fewer than 30 people have been infected since the '90s although thousands receive preventative care if bitten by an animal.
Most states mandate that dogs and cats have up to date rabies shots.
For more on rabies, click here to Empowher's encyclopedia : http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/rabies
Are you pets vaccinated against rabies? Have you ever been bitten by an animal and received preventative treatment? Did you know that rabies was still so prevalent in the developing world?
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