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Rabies – A zoonotic disease Rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning it is transmitted to humans from animals. The rabies virus is a member of the Rhabdovirus family and it is caused by the virus Neurotropic Lyssavirus (Woodroffe, Ginsberg & Macdonald, 1997). It leads to an acute, central nervous system infection, which is characterized by CNS irritation, followed by paralysis and death (Woodroffe, Ginsberg & Macdonald, 1997). It occurs in more than 150 countries and territories and dogs are the source of 99% of human rabies deaths. The natural reservoir for the rabies virus is in the wild animal that bites a human. Animal reservoirs include semi-wild dogs, skunks, raccoons, fox, bats and mongoose (Woodroffe, Ginsberg & Macdonald, 1997). Essentially, the frequency of contacts between susceptible and infectious individuals is the rate-determining step in the spread of the disease but it is extremely difficult to measure in the wild (White, Harris and Smith, 1995). There is an increase in rabies in late summer and early fall in red foxes. This increase in rabies corresponds to time of dispersal and reproductive maturation in juvenile males (Johnston and Beauregard, 1969). A limited natural human immune response to rabies does exist. A reason for a failure to protect in humans is the poor immunological response that the virus provokes. The natural killer (NK) cell activity was assessed in patients with rabies. There was no significant difference in number of killer cells between rabies patients and normal controls. Results showed that NK cells of rabies patients were not fully stimulated and that might contribute to the virulence of rabies (Panpanich, Hemachuda, Piyasirishilp, Manatsathit, Wilde, and Phanuphak, 1992).

The behavioural symptoms of rabies are classic, however, a diagnosis that is only based on the symptoms is difficult because the symptoms are similar to…...

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