Pet First Aid for Pet Professionals Level 3 (VTQ)

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Rabies: Risks, Symptoms, and Prevention

Rabies Awareness in the UK

Rabies is not endemic in the UK, but it poses a significant threat in other regions worldwide, including mainland Europe. This viral disease swiftly impacts the central nervous system of various mammals, including humans, bats, foxes, cats, and dogs.

Rabies: A Global Concern

Rabies is a grave global concern, with an estimated 50,000 human fatalities and millions of animal deaths attributed to it annually. Once symptoms manifest, the disease is nearly always fatal.

Transmission and Risk

The virus can be transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal via bites, scratches, or contact with open wounds. Animals in the UK are at risk only if they travel abroad or if they reside outside the country.

Legal Requirements for Travelling with Pets

For individuals traveling with pets, it is legally mandated to ensure rabies vaccinations before travel. Additionally, a valid pet passport is required, which will be scrutinized at national borders.

Symptoms in Infected Dogs

When a dog contracts rabies, initial behavioural changes may include aggression towards animals or objects, irritability, restlessness, dehydration, excessive licking of wounds, and fever. Other signs encompass alterations in bark tone and a heightened fear of water.

As the disease progresses, dogs become hypersensitive to light, sound, or touch, often seeking refuge in dark spaces and displaying unusual eating behaviours. Coordination problems emerge, leading to staggering and hind leg paralysis. Foaming at the mouth and throat and jaw paralysis also become apparent.

Additional symptoms may involve seizures, weakness, and, ultimately, death.

Treatment for Bitten and Vaccinated Dogs

If a vaccinated dog is bitten, a booster vaccination is necessary, along with other treatments that may include a 10-day quarantine under veterinary supervision.

First Aid for Bites and Scratches

Immediate wound care for individuals bitten or scratched by potentially infected animals while abroad includes washing the wound with soap and running water for several minutes. Disinfection with alcohol or iodine-based solutions is crucial, followed by the application of a sterile dressing. Seek medical attention for humans or veterinary care for pets without delay, even before returning to the UK.

Incubation Period in Humans

In humans, the incubation period for rabies symptoms generally ranges from 2 to 8 weeks, depending on factors like age and the extent of exposure to infectious material. While rare, rapid onset can occur within 10 days, or it may take one to two years for symptoms to manifest.

Rabies Vaccinations

Individuals entering high-risk environments can receive rabies vaccination injections for added protection against potential exposure. Consult your doctor for more information, noting that there may be associated costs. Regardless of vaccination, always take precautions to prevent bites or scratches from animals when travelling.