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Rabies in Malawi

Rabies in Malawi

In Malawi, it is said that nearly 500 people die each year due to rabies. This deadly disease can be carried by any mammal and is usually transmitted to humans via a bite or deep scratch. Beware village dogs and habituated monkeys, but assume that any mammal that bites or scratches you (or even licks your skin) might be rabid.

First, scrub the wound with soap under a running tap, or while pouring water from a jug, then pour on a strong iodine or alcohol solution, which will guard against infections and might reduce the risk of the rabies virus entering the body.

Whether or not you underwent pre-exposure vaccination, it is vital to obtain post-exposure prophylaxis as soon as possible after the incident. However, if you have had the vaccine before exposure, treatment is very much easier. It removes the need for a human blood product (Rabies Immunoglobulin (RIG)) which is not pleasant to have, expensive and often hard to find. Death from rabies is probably one of the worst ways to go, and once you show symptoms it is too late to do anything – the mortality rate is 100%.

Signs of rabies can appear anywhere from 1 week to more than a year following the bite of an infected dog. On, average, symptoms appear within 1-3 months.