Image Source: Andy Wagstaffe
Fever and tingling at the site of exposure (where the animal bit you) are early symptoms. Later comes violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fear of water, inability to move parts of the body, confusion, and loss of consciousness (kind of like binge-drinking, maybe?) The time from exposure to symptoms can vary from days to months. In the U.S., bats are more likely to infect a person with rabies than a dog.
Image source: Andrew Codrington
The fear of water, or hydrophobia, seems especially weird to me. But get this. Rabies causes saliva production to go into overdrive while at the same time, causing excruciatingly pain in the muscles of the throat and larynx if the sick animal tries to drink. Since the sick animal can't wash away the virus by drinking, the virus builds up in the saliva. Now the virus has an even better chance of being spread when the sick animal bites someone. Talk about diabolical!
Speaking of diabolical, remember Cujo? That's the title of a movie based on a book by Stephen King where a mother and her son are trapped in their hot, tiny car by a rabid St. Bernard. Now imagine being attacked by a rabid human, and not only that, the virus has turned their saliva a hideous indigo color. Now you've got the premise for Sandra Coxes' Rainers, a terrifying short story in the anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here.
Unlike Sandra's world, there is treatment for rabies. Remember the old 27 shots in the stomach routine? That's being phased out by less shots into the arm. There's also a new treatment, the Milwaukee Protocol, in which the patient is put into a coma to save the brain from damage and give the body's immune system time to fight the virus.
Have you read Cujo or seen the movie? Are you now more afraid of bats than barking dogs?
Sandra is doing an amazing catalogue of cats for the A to Z challenge and her book, Makita, available for 99 cents on Amazon this week.