Preven­tion is al­ways the best way to han­dle ra­bies

The Glengarry News - - Health, Beauty, Fit­ness, Nu­tri­tion -

Preven­tion is al­ways the best medicine. That ap­plies to ra­bies, a dis­ease that spo­rad­i­cally be­comes prob­lem­atic.

Ra­bies is a vi­ral dis­ease that can at­tack the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem of mam­mals, in­clud­ing hu­mans. Even though ra­bies is usu­ally found in wild an­i­mals such as bats, rac­coons, foxes and skunks, house­hold pets also pro­vide a link for the trans­mis­sion of ra­bies to hu­mans. Once clin­i­cal symp­toms ap­pear, ra­bies is almost al­ways fa­tal.

An­i­mals with ra­bies may show a va­ri­ety of clin­i­cal signs. The dis­ease can ap­pear in two forms: Dumb ra­bies and fu­ri­ous ra­bies.

With dumb ra­bies, do­mes­tic an­i­mals may be­come de­pressed and try to hide in iso­lated places. Wild an­i­mals may lose their fear of hu­mans and ap­pear un­usu­ally friendly. Wild an­i­mals that usu­ally only come out at night may be out dur­ing the day. An­i­mals may have paral­y­sis. Ar­eas most com­monly af­fected are the face or neck (which causes ab­nor­mal fa­cial ex­pres­sions or drool­ing) or the hind legs.

With fu­ri­ous ra­bies, an­i­mals may be­come very ex­cited and ag­gres­sive. Pe­ri­ods of ex­cite­ment usu­ally al­ter­nate with pe­ri­ods of de­pres­sion. An­i­mals may at­tack ob­jects or other an­i­mals. They may even bite or chew their own limbs.

How is ra­bies spread?

Ra­bies is trans­mit­ted through saliva – pri­mar­ily via bite wounds. It can also be spread when in­fected saliva comes into con­tact with a scratch, open wound or the mu­cous mem­brane, such as those in the mouth, nasal cav­ity or eyes.

When the virus en­ters an an­i­mal’s body, it spreads through the nerves to the brain, where it mul­ti­plies quickly. The virus then moves to the sali­vary glands and other parts of the body.

Pre­vent­ing hu­man ill­ness

If treat­ment is given promptly af­ter be­ing ex­posed to or bit­ten by an an­i­mal that could have ra­bies, hu­man ill­ness can be pre­vented. The fol­low­ing ac­tions are rec­om­mended: Im­me­di­ately wash the wound or ex­posed sur­face with soap and water. Re­move any cloth­ing that may have been con­tam­i­nated. Seek med­i­cal ad­vice as soon as pos­si­ble. The East­ern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is re­spon­si­ble for in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports of an­i­mal bites and sus­pi­cious di­rect hu­man con­tacts with an­i­mals or bats that have oc­curred in the five East­ern Coun­ties. All an­i­mal bites to hu­mans must be re­ported to the EOHU by call­ing 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120.

When the EOHU in­ves­ti­gates a bite or a sus­pi­cious di­rect con­tact in­volv­ing a dog, cat or fer­ret, we ask that the an­i­mal be con­fined for 10 days. If the an­i­mal is well at the end of the 10 days, it may be re­leased.

Pre­vent­ing the spread of ra­bies

There are some sim­ple ways that you can help pre­vent the spread of ra­bies.

Vac­ci­nate pets against ra­bies as rec­om­mended by your vet­eri­nar­ian. Don’t let pets roam free. Avoid wild or do­mes­tic an­i­mals that are be­hav­ing strangely.

Don’t try to help an in­jured an­i­mal. Con­tact an­i­mal con­trol or a pro­fes­sional for help.

Keep a safe dis­tance from wild an­i­mals, even if they look healthy. Do not at­tempt to raise or­phaned wild an­i­mals. At­tempt to keep bats from get­ting in­side your home. Teach chil­dren not to touch wild an­i­mals or pets they don’t know.

In­cu­ba­tion pe­riod

The in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod is the amount of time it takes from when you are first in­fected to when you be­gin de­vel­op­ing symp­toms. For ra­bies, the in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod may range from two weeks to many months, de­pend­ing on the strain of ra­bies and the lo­ca­tion of the bite.

How­ever, it’s im­por­tant to be aware that an an­i­mal can trans­mit the dis­ease sev­eral days be­fore show­ing clin­i­cal signs.

Like all run­ners, Bob Hardy strives to qual­ify for the Boston Marathon, the penul­ti­mate prize for dis­tance com­peti­tors.

Un­like many, how­ever, the 67-year-old Alexan­dria can­cer sur­vivor is hop­ing to achieve a Boston qual­i­fy­ing time with the help of a walker.

If his plan works out, by this time next year, Mr. Hardy will be able to cover the 42-kilo­me­tre dis­tance in a time of four hours, ten min­utes, the stan­dard he needs to qual­ify for the leg­endary race in the 65 to 69 age cat­e­gory.

The walker run­ner fin­ished the 2018 Ottawa marathon in 5 hours, 26 min­utes, 58 sec­onds, 33 min­utes faster than 2017. He is de­ter­mined to shave one hour from his per­sonal best when he com­petes in Toronto and Ottawa races this year.

Now his im­me­di­ate sched­ule in­cludes the June 10 Walk for Alzheimer’s at the Tim Hor­tons Dome in Alexan­dria, where he will par­tic­i­pate along­side ul­tra marathoner David Mer­paw.

Mr. Hardy’s ob­jec­tive is to roll the 10-kilo­me­tre course in one hour, or less. His last best time at the Dome was one hour, two min­utes.

“I am invit­ing guest run­ners to join me at 10 a.m.,” he ex­plains, while the main starts at 1 p.m.

“Bring money (for the Alzheimer So­ci­ety), run­ning shoes and suit­able clothes,” he ad­vises. “We are invit­ing peo­ple to come and see what we are do­ing.”

As he at­tains his per­sonal goals, Mr. Hardy be­lieves he is also des­tig­ma­tiz­ing a de­vice that many peo­ple now, or will even­tu­ally, use. “A walker is cool,” he re­marks.

Fu­ture races in­clude half-marathon in Pointe-Claire, La­chine and Ottawa, lead­ing to the Oc­to­ber 21 Toronto Wa­ter­front full, 42.2-km. marathon.

“I have to get over the fact that my Ottawa Marathon was an­other record time for me,” says Mr. Hardy.

Peo­ple wish­ing to sup­port him dur­ing his fund-rais­ing runs can call 613-361-0504.

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