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Rabies in cats – signs, symptoms, prevention and treatment

Rabies in cats - signs, symptoms, prevention and treatment

What is rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease with which all warm-blooded animals, including cats and humans, can become infected, although some species have some natural resistance to the disease. When signs of anger appear, it almost always leads to death.

Cases of rabies have been identified and described a long time ago, from about 2300 BC. er

How common is rabies?

The virus is found on all continents, except Australia and Antarctica, and in almost all countries, with the exception of some islands. In countries free of rabies, strict quarantine legislation is maintained that prevents the spread of the virus.

How is rabies transmitted?

The rabies virus can not live long outside the body of a mammal. It can be transmitted through the saliva of infected animals and their stings.

The main sources of viruses that infect humans and animals are stray dogs, foxes, raccoons and bats.

How long is the incubation period between the bite of an infected animal and the onset of symptoms in a cat?

The incubation period can vary from ten days to a year or more. In cats, it is usually less than in dogs, and usually lasts from 3 to 8 weeks.

Death usually occurs within ten days after the first onset of symptoms.

The rate of development of clinical symptoms depends on:

  1. The bite. The closer the bite of the brain or spinal cord is, the faster the virus will reach the nervous tissue and cause the symptoms.
  2. Bite by gravity.
  3. The amount of virus in the saliva when it bites. The rabies virus is not always present in the saliva of an infected animal.

What are the clinical signs of rabies?

After being bitten or scratched by an infected animal, the disease goes through three stages:

  1. Stage prodromal: is characterized by a marked change in behavior. Silent cats can become agitated and aggressive, and violent and active, on the contrary, they can be nervous or shy.
  2. The second stage, encephalitis – aggression, or rabies. During this stage, the cat becomes the most dangerous for other animals as well as for people. The cat will become increasingly nervous, irritable and angry. Muscle cramps often interfere with swallowing, so excessive salivation may occur.
  3. The third stage is paralysis, which usually occurs after seven days. Eventually, the cat will fall into a coma and die.

A characteristic of rabies in cats is dilation of the pupils in all stages of the disease.

How is rabies diagnosed?

Rabies can only be diagnosed by direct brain examination. It is impossible to diagnose a virus in a live animal.

If there is a high probability that the animal is infected with rabies, or if the animal with symptoms of rabies dies suddenly, then the veterinarian may recommend taking samples for diagnosis.

Can a cat survive the bite of an infected animal?

In some cases, there may be no virus in the saliva of an infected animal. In these cases, the rabies virus will not be transmitted.

However, as soon as the symptoms develop, the disease is always fatal.

After infection, the only possible way to stop the development of the disease is through the use of rabies serum or vaccination. This serum contains specific immune antibodies against the virus.

The most important way to prevent rabies is the immediate administration of the rabies vaccine. The vaccine will stimulate the animal to develop its own immunity against the rabies virus.

Is post-bite vaccination effective in humans?

Yes, vaccination is effective, but only if the rabies virus does not enter the nervous system. Once the virus has entered the nerve cells, it will spread through the nerve fibers, where it will be protected from the antibodies.

Therefore, post-bite vaccination should be completed as soon as possible.

Is a cat vaccinated after being bitten?

Because of the potential risk to humans, an unvaccinated cat that bit or scratched a person is usually not vaccinated, as this can mask the signs of infection. If there is a high probability of infection, the safest option is to put an animal to sleep or, alternatively, to strict quarantine for several months.

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