Know all about rabies vaccine and chances of its failure 

Rajesh Raveendran 

Representative image | Photo: AFP

Alappuzha: In a rare case, a youth in Palakkad, who was bitten by a dog, died of rabies infection despite taking vaccines.

Rabies vaccination has failed only in very few isolated cases. But it cannot be said that taking the vaccine will make anyone completely immune or safe either.

Chances of failure

  • The bite wound must be thoroughly washed with soap immediately. Otherwise the virus may spread quickly to the brain. So, sometimes death may occur even after receiving the vaccine, when the antibodies do not work properly.
  • Not taking the vaccine immediately after the bite may also cause the vaccine to not work properly. If the injury is caused to the veins, the virus will reach the brain sooner.
  • Improper training of those who administer the vaccine may also be a reason. The person administering the vaccine should have training in the method of injecting into the membrane.
  • The change in the atmospheric conditions where the vaccine is kept may affect its quality. The temperature at which the vaccines are to be stored should be between 2 to 8 degrees celsius.
  • A vaccine vial that has been opened will only last for six to eight hours without being spoiled. Injecting the vaccine after this will not be effective.
Things to keep in mind

  • Try not to mingle too closely with pets including cats and dogs. If close interaction occurs, wash hands with soap and water.
  • If bitten by cat or dog, wash the wound thoroughly with soap. Vaccine must be administered as soon as possible.
  • Do not consider any kind of attack by pets as silly. Vaccine must be taken immediately.
  • All four vaccines must be taken in the exact intervals that they are supposed to be taken (Day 3,7,28).
  • Pets must be administered rabies vaccine.
Symptoms of rabies

Initial symptoms of rabies include fatigue or discomfort, fever, throat pain, headache, and an itching sensation at the site of the bite. The symptoms shown in the second phase are breathing difficulty, shivering, cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and fear of air, light and water. During the third phase, the patient will face severe fatigue and breathing trouble, followed by death.

How the vaccine works

Rabies vaccine is made of inactivated rabies virus and is injected into the human body. The body will produce antibodies against the virus and will defend the body from it. This will take some time.

Dr B Padmakumar, Head of the Medicine Department, Government Medical College, Konni

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