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Dog fury/Rage

                                              Dog fury/Rage

Rabies has been a disease known since ancient times. It prevailed in France until the early 2000s. In 2001, thanks to large vaccination campaigns for foxes and dogs, France was declared free from rabies. But since 2008, she lost this status for two years, following the contamination of a dog in France from another rabid dog, returning from Morocco.

This deadly disease, transmissible to humans, still rages at our borders (Maghreb, Eastern Europe) and causes the death of more than 55,000 people a year, especially children. Russia, China, and India are particularly affected.

What animals are on display?

Rabies is a deadly zoonosis: this viral disease, caused by a Lyssavirus, is transmissible from animals to humans. It affects many mammals, including dogs, foxes, and bats.

Dogs, when not vaccinated, can, regardless of their breed or age, be infected by a rabid animal and get the disease. However, rabies is today very rare on French territory.

Only special circumstances can lead to contamination:

contact with an animal brought back from abroad (contaminated areas),
travel to an affected country
exceptionally, contact with a carrier bat.
Rabies can be treated after a contaminating bite, but as soon as symptoms appear, death inevitably occurs.

How is rabies transmitted?

Rabies is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal, even before the animal has any symptoms. Saliva contains a large amount of virus, which is injected when the rabid animal bites its victim. Contamination can also be done by scratching or licking the skin by a rabid animal. The cat is also sensitive to rabies and can transmit it. However, human-to-human transmission is very rare.

Rabies virus

The rabies virus is a member of the Rhabdoviridae family. This large family includes animal viruses, including insects, but also viruses infecting plants. It belongs to the genus Lyssavirus, which rages all over the world.

The rabies virus is fragile and therefore not very resistant in the environment. It is sensitive to light, heat (therefore destroyed by cooking), and oxygen in the air. The saliva of a rabid animal that has defiled an object, therefore, remains dangerous for a short time.

The rabies virus is neurotropic: it modifies the functioning of the nervous system. It disrupts neurons, especially those that regulate cardiac activity or respiration. After a few days to a few months of incubation (a symptom-free period), the affected dog develops an inflammation/infection of the brain, called encephalitis, which progresses to death within a few days.

Clinical signs

The incubation period for rabies, that is, between the bite and the onset of symptoms, varies from 9 days to more than a year.

This delay is due to the migration of the virus from the initial site of entry into the body to the spinal cord or the brain.

Three phases can be distinguished during so-called “furious” rage:

First phase: local inflammation at the site of entry of the virus, followed by fever, then discreet changes in mood and behavior. Thereafter, the pupils dilate and the ocular reflexes slow down. The animal’s voice changes.

Second phase: aggression, coordination problems, disorientation, convulsive seizures, increased salivation, and photophobia (heightened sensitivity to light). The dog runs away, biting any living being crossing its path and swallowing all kinds of objects.

Third phase: general paresis (difficulty in moving and coordinating one's movements), then paralysis beginning with the hindquarters or the jaws, before becoming generalized. Death occurs in 4 to 5 days on average by paralysis of the respiratory muscles.

The paralytic form comes down to paralysis occurring immediately or just after a short period of worry or sadness. Paralysis of the muscles of the lower jaw does not allow the bite. We speak of "silent rage". The outcome is the same: the paralysis becomes generalized and the animal dies in 2 to 3 days.

Wild animals, when affected, exhibit altered behavior and lose their caution towards humans. Nocturnal species, such as the fox or bats, come out in broad daylight to get closer to homes. They sometimes attack domestic animals. Bats can even bite human beings, which is rarer in the case of foxes.

Rabies diagnosis

The symptoms of rabies can be very discreet and not very specific, which makes the diagnosis extremely difficult. An animal suspected of rabies will imperatively be put under observation by the veterinarian and rigorous precautions are essential if there is any doubt: contact with an animal with abnormal, aggressive behavior, and/or imported from a country at risk (the Maghreb, Europe of the 'Is in particular), bite by an animal whose provenance and vaccination status are unknown.

The diagnosis of certainty is based on laboratory examinations carried out at the Institut Pasteur after the animal's death.

Treatment, Prevention, and Control
After the onset of symptoms, no treatment is effective and the animal must be euthanized.

Preventing the disease requires taking common-sense precautions, such as avoiding contact between pets and injured or foxes exhibiting abnormal behavior. It is also imperative not to handle bats, especially since they are protected animals (it is absolutely forbidden to destroy them).

Vaccination is obviously a very effective way to protect dogs. The first injection must be made after the age of 3 months, in an identified dog, and regular reminders are necessary. A passport is then issued.

This measure is mandatory when traveling abroad. For some countries, such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Ireland or Malta, a blood test and a serological test are required. This examination is carried out by the veterinarian, at least one month after the vaccine injection, and more than 3 to 6 months before the trip.

Similarly, the import of puppies from abroad is subject to specific rules and it is important to obtain information from the embassies or consulates of the countries concerned.
People who break these rules by bringing back puppies or kittens hidden in their luggage are exposed to very serious risks and severe penalties.

In France, it is vital to continue to maintain high vaccine pressure and to protect dogs. Indeed, only such vigilance allows France to resist the infectious pressure of neighboring countries and to prevent the cases of summer rabies encountered sporadically from having even more dramatic consequences
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