Hero Image

Busting 5 Common Misconceptions About Rabies On World Rabies Day

On the occasion of World Rabies Day , observed on September 28th, it is crucial to dispel common myths and misconceptions surrounding this potentially fatal disease. Rabies is a zoonotic infection, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. It is caused by a bullet-shaped virus known as Rhabdovirus , which tends to thrive within nerve cells once it enters the human body.
Once it fully establishes itself in the nervous system, rabies becomes incurable.

1. Transmission Beyond Animal Bites: The most significant misconception about rabies is that it is solely transmitted through animal bites. In reality, it can also be contracted through scratches or open wounds on the human body. Besides dogs, animals such as cats, foxes, monkeys, jackals, mongoose, and even lions have been known to transmit rabies. Human-to-human transmission is not unheard of, and it can even be acquired through airborne routes when people breathe in areas with dense bat populations.

2. Treatment of Dog Bite Wounds: There is a common misconception regarding the treatment of dog bite wounds. The recommended approach is to thoroughly wash a dog bite injury under running tap water or with soap water, without applying pressure to the wound. Soap water, alcohol-based sanitizers, Dettol, Savlon, and iodine-based solutions are all effective at killing the virus and preventing its entry into the body. Following wound cleaning, a complete course of rabies vaccination is necessary. It's important not to bandage or close the wound without seeking medical assistance.

3. Treatment for Previously Vaccinated Individuals: Another misconception pertains to individuals who have been previously vaccinated against rabies. Even if a person has received prior vaccination, it is still necessary to receive additional vaccine doses if bitten by a dog. However, the number of vaccine doses required is typically fewer, and the administration of anti-rabies serum may be deferred in such cases.

4. Cost of Vaccination: There is a misconception about the cost of rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccines are readily available in government hospitals across the country, often at a significantly reduced cost. In fact, rabies vaccines are now available over the counter and are more affordable than a pizza.

5. Pet Vaccination : It is also important to clarify the misconception that only outdoor pets need to be vaccinated against rabies. Both indoor and outdoor pets should undergo the complete vaccination course, including periodic yearly booster doses. Maintaining vaccination records for pets is essential.

Education and Reporting

It is of utmost importance to teach children the importance of reporting dog bites or scratches to their guardians.

Rabies is a potentially lethal disease with no cure once the virus establishes itself in the body. However, timely treatment can prevent its onset. Collaborative efforts from the medical community, NGOs, and government support can pave the way to achieving the goal of zero rabies deaths by 2030.