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Rabies: Rare Human Infection - Common Questions

Rodney E Willoughby
Infectious Disease Clinics of North America 2015, 29 (4): 637-50
26384549
Rabies is an acute, rapidly progressive encephalitis that is almost always fatal. Prophylaxis is highly effective but economics limits disease control. The mechanism of death from rabies is unclear. It is poorly cytopathic and poorly inflammatory. Rabies behaves like an acquired metabolic disorder. There may be a continuum of disease severity. History of animal bite is rare. The diagnosis is often missed. Intermittent encephalopathy, dysphagia, hydrophobia and aerophobia, and focal paresthesias or myoclonic jerks suggest rabies. Laboratory diagnosis is cumbersome but sensitive. Treatment is controversial but survivors are increasingly reported, with good outcomes in 4 of 8 survivors.

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