During my trip to India i was bitten by a street dog and had to be treated for rabies.
Before this incident, I had no idea how dangerous rabies can be and the issue developing countries like India face where rabies is endemic.
In this article, I’ll share what I learned, and what you need to do if you get exposed to rabies on your travels.
Table of Contents
The Stats – How Big an Issue is Rabies in India?
Rabies is a serious issue in India, with thousands of deaths reported every year. According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for approximately 36% of the world’s rabies deaths. The number of reported cases has decreased significantly over the years, but it is still a considerable problem in the country.
|What is rabies?
|A viral disease that affects the central nervous system transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, usually through a bite
|How does it work?
|The virus attacks the brain and spinal cord, and if left untreated, it can be fatal
|How is rabies treated?
|There are vaccines available that can be given before or after exposure to the virus
|What to do if you get bit?
|Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately
What Exactly is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, usually through a bite. The virus attacks the brain and spinal cord, and if left untreated, it can be fatal. Symptoms of rabies include fever, headache, muscle weakness, and eventually, seizures and paralysis.
The key thing to know is that Rabies is basically uncurable. If you get rabies, it’s 99% likely you’ll die.
How Does it Work?
The rabies virus enters the body through the saliva of an infected animal.
It travels to the brain and spinal cord, where it begins to replicate rapidly, attacking nerve cells.
The virus then spreads to other parts of the body, such as the salivary glands, from where it can be passed on to other animals or humans through a bite.
How is Rabies Treated?
Luckily, Rabies is a preventable disease, and there are vaccines available that can be given before or after exposure to the virus.
If you are bitten by an animal, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Treatment usually involves an initial injection of immunoglobulin based on your bodyweight, and then a subsequent 4 injections of rabies vaccine over the next 4 weeks. This can be costly and may not always be readily available in certain parts of the world.
What You Need to Do if You Get Bit
If you are bitten by an animal, the first thing you should do is wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
It is then essential to seek medical attention immediately. If possible, try to identify the animal that bit you, as this will help in determining the appropriate treatment.
My Rabies Experience In India
The Dog Bite
During my trip to India, I was out exploring the city when I walked between two street dogs that were barking at each other.
As I walked past I turned my back to one of the dogs and it nipped the back of my ankle
It wasn’t a bad bite but it was enough to draw blood.
And now the questioning begins.. does the dog have rabies? was the bite enough to transfer the virus?
I knew that despite the incredibly low risk of infection, I had to seek treatment for rabies.
Seeking Medical Attention
The first thing I did was went back to my hotel and washed the wound with soap and hot water.
The good news is you have 24 hours to start the treatment process after the bite.
I think went to a local pharmacy to enquire about the vaccine. They were able to sell me the vaccine (yay!) but they weren’t able to administer it. I had to go to a local hospital for that
At the hospital, I was immediately taken to the emergency room and given a tetanus shot. The doctor then recommended that I get the rabies vaccine.
Buying the Vaccine
Getting the rabies vaccine in India was not an easy task. It was expensive, and the hospital did not have enough vaccines in stock. I had to go to several different pharmacies to find the vaccine, and even then, it was not always available.
The total cost of my treatment was quite high, including the cost of the vaccine and the hospital fees. It was a stressful experience, and I was grateful that I had travel insurance to help cover the costs.
Rabies is a serious issue in India, and travelers should take precautions to avoid contact with infected animals. It is essential to seek medical attention immediately if you are bitten, as treatment can be costly and may not always be readily available. I learned this lesson the hard way, but I am grateful that I received the treatment I needed to prevent any serious complications.