Rabies is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans) that is caused by a virus. It is known to be present on all continents except Antarctica and infects domestic and wild animals.
For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if postexposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death.
The rabies virus travels to the brain by following the peripheral nerves. The incubation period of the disease is usually a few months in humans, depending on the distance the virus must travel to reach the central nervous system. Once the rabies virus reaches the central nervous system and symptoms begin to show, the infection is virtually untreatable and usually fatal within days.
The initial symptoms of rabies are often vague, and it can be easy to mistake them for other less serious types of infection. They include:
- a high temperature of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or above
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- problems sleeping
- lack of appetite
- sore throat
Around half of people will also experience pain and a tingling sensation at the site of the infection.
Initial symptoms of rabies last for two to 10 days before more severe symptoms start to develop. There are two types of advanced rabies:
furious rabies, which accounts for four out of five cases
dumb or paralytic rabies, which accounts for the remainder of cases
Nursing Diagnosis for Rabies
- Ineffective breathing pattern related to asphyxia
- Imbalanced Nutrition: less than body requirements related to decreased swallowing reflexes
- Hyperthermia related to viremia
- Anxiety (family) related to exposure to information
- Risk for injury related to seizures and weakness
- Risk for infection associated with open wounds