Some believe that rabies is a disease that only affects dogs, but the truth is that it is a viral infection that affects a wide range of animals, including cats that transmit it by scratching and biting.
A few days ago, social media users circulated a widespread publication that included an important warning about “scribbling” cats to humans, as it caused the death of an Egyptian student 6 months after being scratched.
The leaflet, which bore the signature of Dr. Mona Mukhtar, Consultant Neurologist at Ain Shams Specialist Hospital, told of the hospital emergency reception of a student at the Faculty of Engineering who suffers from convulsions and disturbances in the degree of consciousness.
After conducting examinations and administering medications conservatively, he developed hydrophobia, a symptom that distinguishes rabies. By asking his family, it was found that he was scratched by a street cat 6 months ago and did not take the vaccine. Indeed, the student died hours later.
Many people, especially those who keep pets, do not realize the danger of ignoring the vaccination of the animal against rabies and the risks of not getting the vaccine, which also leads to death, because rabies is a disease that has no cure.
Rabies kills people and animals
Dr. Khaled Hafez, a specialist in pet medicine and surgery and a resident physician at Dapper Vet Clinics in Germany, explained that rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted through the blood and affects the nervous system more.
Hafez told Al-Ain news that “when an animal is infected as a result of a bite or scratch, the virus enters its body and moves to the nearest nerve point, then it travels through the blood until it reaches the brain, so that symptoms begin to appear.”
He stated that rabies is transmitted to cats as a result of scratching or biting another cat, or in other ways, because this virus is present on the animal’s fur or in its saliva.
The specialist warned that cats are often carriers of rabies without showing symptoms, saying: “Symptoms do not appear on them except when their immunity begins to weaken or the virus reaches the blood.”
The specialist doctor lists the symptoms that confirm that the cat is infected with the rabies virus, most notably:
– Change in his character to become very nervous and move everywhere in agitation.
Fear of water (hydrophobia).
Producing a lot of saliva.
He pointed out the need for those who keep cats to differentiate between symptoms of rabies and symptoms that are similar to it and appear on cats during the mating period specifically during spring and autumn, as their natures differ and they become fierce, biting, scratching and making sounds.
Also, the cat may acquire violent behavior as a result of the interaction of those who keep it with it, or symptoms of ferocity appear as a result of the presence of more than one animal in the house, so its behavior turns fiercer to try to impose control.
Hafez explained that this disease ends the lives of cats within a maximum of 10 days, saying: “There is no cure for rabies, and the only step available worldwide is to protect the cat by vaccinating it before it is exposed to the virus.
And he believed that the seriousness of the virus lies in two things, the first is related to dealing with the disease itself and the second is that it is an infectious disease that is transmitted to humans when dealing with the infected cat, explaining that the animal must be isolated because it is 80% likely to infect any human or other animal that tries to approach it.
He said, “It is preferable, when symptoms of the disease appear on the cat, to isolate it until it dies, or to give it a euthanasia injection before it infects others.”
Regarding the danger of rabies to humans, the doctor explained that it poses a great danger to his life if he is not treated initially before the virus reaches the nervous system, because it is a disease for which there is no cure.
Hafez advised any person who deals with animals, whether outside his home or raises them inside his home, to take an annual vaccination against rabies, while obtaining a tetanus vaccination once in a lifetime, so that his body is prepared in the event of a viral attack.
He also advised everyone to avoid dealing with street cats, and when dealing with it, it is necessary to pay attention to hand washing and personal hygiene, and to go to the nearest hospital in the event of a scratch or bite from it.
As for those who are raised in his home, he must prevent his cats from going out to the street completely, while maintaining constant cleanliness of their place and body, according to the doctor.
Rabies infects these animals
Dr. Samah Mostafa Noah, Head of the Veterinary Guidance Department at the Shuhada Department of the Menoufia Veterinary Directorate, said that rabies is not limited to dogs and cats, but also affects cows, donkeys, camels, goats and a wide range of mammals.
Noah told Al-Ain news that rabies is an old and well-known virus that infects all mammals and is transmitted through it to any animal or person who scratches or bites him, and it is the only disease that kills the infected person as soon as symptoms appear on him.
And she explained: “It is normal in any disease that we act to treat it as soon as symptoms appear on the affected person or animal, but rabies is the only disease that if its symptoms appear on the animal, the solution is execution, because the fate of the infected person is death because there is no treatment for him.”
Symptoms of rabies differ from one animal to another according to its nature. For example, a while ago, a donkey owner complained about the behavior of his animal, and the signs that appeared on him were nervousness, restless looks, biting the penis, constantly making sounds, and trying to bite everyone who approaches him, according to the specialist.
She said, “After diagnosing and discovering that the donkey had previously been bitten by a rabid dog, we confirmed that it had rabies and had to be executed and the corpse buried well so that it would not become contagious.”
Noah explained that the first 3 hours after the rabid animal bit the victim is the most important period, because the virus is at the beginning and has not yet transmitted to any nerve point.
And she continued: “In this case, we must seize the opportunity by washing the wound well under running water, then disinfecting the wound without covering it until we reach the hospital and take the serum, which consists of 5 divided doses every week, and the doses must be taken in full.”
And the specialist warned of the danger of the passage of the first 3 days for a person after being bitten by a rabid animal, saying: “If 72 hours pass without taking the serum, then this person is doomed to death.”
And she noted that human infection with rabies does not depend on biting or scratching from a rabid animal, but rather that I can become infected as soon as he eats food or drink contaminated with the saliva of an infected animal.
Concerning edible animals infected with rabies, if they are in the first 3 days of infection, they can be slaughtered and their meat eaten after getting rid of the bitten part.
$2,000 is the price of a “poison” of rabies serum
Dr. Nabil El-Beblawi, former president of the Egyptian Company for Serum and Vaccine, confirmed that Egypt has a large stock of rabies vaccination, as it places the possibility that 300,000 bites will occur per year, thus providing one and a half million doses of the vaccine.
Al-Beblawi told Al-Ain news that more than 95% of people who receive the rabies vaccination in Egyptian hospitals take it as a precaution, because the animal that attacked them is often not rabid.
He added, “Ninety nine percent of the animals that bite or scratch those who receive the vaccination are not rabid, but we give it as a precaution because the remaining 1 percent endangers human life.”
The former official confirmed that the treatment course for rabies is delivered free of charge in all health centers in Egypt, where the Ministry of Health guarantees it free of charge to all citizens, explaining that the cost of the serum that is given in the case of the upper bite is $2000 per centimeter.
He explained that when a person is scratched or bitten by any animal that has hooves, the body is divided into two regions, the upper part up to the navel and the lower part, indicating that the first requires a higher precaution than the lower part.
He concluded, “The vaccination is available in all health centers, and it consists of 5 doses. The first is on the same day of exposure to the bite or scratch, or within a maximum of 72 hours, the second after 3 days, then the third after a week, and so on.”