Rabies and Child Health

Rabies is a dangerous viral infection that affects the central nervous system and is usually transmitted by a bite from an infected animal. Symptoms usually appear a month after the initial contamination.

What Are the Symptoms of Rabies?

There are three stages of symptoms, and each stage progressively becomes more dangerous to your child's health -- possibly even leading to death.

The first stage is called the prodromal period. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, cough, fatigue and a tingling sensation around the bite. These symptoms usually last one to four days.


The second stage consists of symptoms that are similar to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Sometimes the patient may exhibit a fever of up to 105 degress Fahrenheit, and/or symptoms of irritability, excessive agitation, confusion, hallucination, agression, muscle spasm, abnormal posture, convulsions, weakness/paralysis, aversion to bright light, sound and/or touch, increased production of saliva or tears and paralysis of the vocal cords.

The last stage of the disease consists of symptoms that are reflective of the progressive crumbling of the nervous system. They include double vision, inability to control facial muscles, inability to control the diaphragm (i.e., breathing), and difficulty swallowing. It is the loss of control in swallowing that causes the "foaming at the mouth," which is so recognizable in rabies. Also in this stage, the patient can slip into a coma and stop breathing. Death is usually imminent after this point, coming within 4 to 20 days from the start of the initial symptoms.

Is Rabies Contagious?

Rabies is not contagious in human-to-human form. It is extremely contagious from animal to human, usually through a bite and transmitted through saliva. Early diagnosis is crucial to the survival of the patient, especially a child. If left untreated, survival is extremely slim, so if you suspect contamination, rush your child to the hospital for immediate care.

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