Rabies: What Is It?


Infectious diseases remain one of the critical factors impacting the health of the nation as, regardless of multiple attempts to control them, there are still outbreaks that affect many individuals and pose a threat to their well-being. For this reason, the improved understanding of the nature of infectious diseases and their epidemiology is critical for health workers’ ability to struggle with them. The paper is devoted to rabies, and all factors associated with it to increase the awareness of this severe disease.

Rabies is an infectious disease that attacks the central nervous system of mammals and results in their death. At the moment, there is no effective treatment that can guarantee patients’ recovery because of the character of the virus and the mechanisms of its functioning (CDC, 2019). Under these conditions, the in-time vaccination shortly after the introduction of the infection is a critical measure that can help to save lives and stop the development of the virus and avoid substantial damage to the nervous system.

The disease is caused by a deadly virus that is usually present in the saliva of infected animals. Because of the lack of awareness, or poor understanding of the problem, people might disregard this fact and do not address a specialist. In such a case, it will result in their death almost in 100% of accidents (CDC, 2019). Unfortunately, when a person acquires the first symptoms of rabies, the disease nearly almost preconditions the death of a patient, which shows its unique severity. The most common way of transmission is by animals such as bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks, stray dogs (CDC, 2019). A bite of any of these mammals is potentially dangerous, and a person should consult with a health worker immediately to determine the course of action.

The symptoms of the disease are also severe and can be used by a specialist to diagnose rabies. However, as stated above, there are no symptoms that emerge immediately, and their occurrence indicates the late stage of the disease and fatal results. The incubation period lasts for 1 to 3 months, and once the virus enters the brain, the first symptoms can be seen. They include fever, the feeling of tiredness, or weakness (CDC, 2019). With the further development of the disease, severer signs appear, such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Fear of water
  • Salivating
  • Anger
  • Paralysis (CDC, 2019).

In the end, the patient dies as there is no effective treatment that would be able to guarantee complete recovery.

Moreover, in some cases, rabies can be followed by tetanus that is also transmitted in similar ways, which will make the state of the patient even more complex (Soni & Verma, 2018). Because of the absence of medicines to resist the disease, patients who might have rabies are recommended to wash the wound with soap and water and visit the local hospital to be vaccinated as postexposure prophylaxis is always successful if given immediately after the bite (CDC, 2019). In includes the fast-acting rabies immune globulin to stop the spread of the infection, and there is a need for new vaccines every 14 days (Soni & Verma, 2018). The given scheme can help to guarantee complete recovery and save the life of patients and remains the only way to struggle against rabies.

Every year, the disease causes about 59.000 deaths globally, which proves its severe character (Soni & Verma, 2018). At the same time, there are no specific groups characterized by age, gender, or race that face a higher risk of being infected. Because of the nature of the disease, people who contact or work with animals might face a significant threat of acquiring rabies. However, there are many causes of occasional bites and the development of the illness.

Determinants of Health

The scope of the problem and its significance are evidenced by the fact that the Healthy People 2020 incentive also considers rabies as the issue that should be given special attention. First, it emphasizes the fact that immunization rates regarding preventable infectious diseases should be increased to protect populations (Healthy People 2020, n.d.). Additionally, the proper use of vaccines, along with the cultivation of awareness related to rabies, can help to save individuals and improve the quality of people’s lives (Healthy People 2020, n.d.). Finally, as one of the social determinants of health, it is vital to create an environment characterized by the absence of infectious animals that might transmit rabies. It means that the disease remains topical and should be monitored.

Epidemiologic Triad

The improved understanding of the disease can be acquired by creating the epidemiologic triad of rabies by using the outbreak in Pakistan as a background. The agent is a rabies virus, as it is the only element needed for the spread of the infection (Mughal & Ali, 2018). Humans and animals can be considered preferred hosts of the virus as it is present only in mammals; however, as for the selected case, animals became the leading carriers of the disease. Finally, as for the environment, the area is characterized by the low level of income and many people living in villages, close to forests, and are vulnerable to bites (Mughal & Ali, 2018). The existence of these factors contributes to the spread of the disease.

Role of the Nurse Practitioner

Regarding the severity of the disease and its impact on patients, the role of the nurse practitioner becomes critically important. This specialist should be ready to work with various population groups with the primary goal to increase the level of their awareness and guarantee that individuals will realize the hazardous character of rabies and address the specialist if there is contact with a wild animal (Hikufe et al., 2019). At the same time, data collected by NPs is essential in monitoring the situation in various communities, determining the factors that might promote the spread of the disease, and eliminate them.

The application of the John Hopkins model can also help to increase the effectiveness of NPs’ work. The model presupposes the integration of practice, research, and education with the primary goal to consider all external and internal factors and generate a single approach effective in struggling against rabies and its control (Dang & Dearholt, 2017). By using research tools and data collected from patients, specialists can create practices useful in improving the situation.


Altogether, rabies remains a dangerous infectious disease that causes lethal consequences in almost 100% of cases if no vaccines are used. For this reason, NPs should be involved in collecting and processing information about outbreaks of the disease to be ready to generate a single approach that will help to improve the health of the nation and decrease rates in various areas. The use of nursing models, such as John Hopkins method can contribute to the achievement of better results. Patients and caregivers should remember that rabies is a lethal illness, and it cannot be treated when first symptoms appear.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019). Web.

Dang, D., & Dearholt, S. (2017). Johns Hopkins nursing evidence-based practice: Model and guidelines (3rd ed.). New York, NY: SIGMA Theta Tau International.

Healthy People 2020. (n.d.). . Web.

Hikufe, E., Freuling, C., Athingo, R., Shilongo, R., Ndevaetela, E., Helao, M., … Maseke, A. (2019). Ecology and epidemiology of rabies in humans, domestic animals and wildlife in Namibia, 2011-2017. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 13(4), e0007355.

Mughal, F., & Ali, B. (2018). Epidemiology of rabies in Pakistan: A review of literature. Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, 2(1), 18-21.

Soni, V., & Verma, S. (2018). Rabies in India: where do we stand? Tropical Doctor, 48(3), 253–253.

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