Run Rabies Run

Document Type


Publication Date



rabies, infection


Rabies is an infection of the central nervous system that causes serious damage and pathophysiological changes to the brain (Farahtaj et al., 2019). The rabies virus kills 59,000 people a year with most cases coming from Africa, Asia, and other countries with high rates of poverty (Jackson, 2018). Every year 29,000,000 people worldwide receive a post-exposure vaccination (World Health Organization [WHO], 2020). This virus is most commonly transmitted by the bite of an animal such as a dog or bat that is contagious. Infections can also occur from scratches or by infected blood or saliva entering mucus membranes or open wounds (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020). After infection, there is a short window of time that the virus can be detected and treated. The virus will travel through the nerves into the central nervous system. Once the virus has reached the CNS, it becomes untreatable and at this point the disease is fatal (CDC, 2020). Treatment involves administration of rabies immunoglobulin and seven rabies vaccinations called the Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, with four shots on day one and three staggered over the next two weeks (Minnesota Department of Health, n.d.). The virus is detected by polymerase chain reaction on a salvia sample or tissue biopsy (CDC, 2020). Prevention of the disease is accomplished by vaccination of household animals, public education, and seeking treatment immediately after potential exposure (WHO, 2020). Rabies is 100% preventable when the vaccine is given to all mammals (CDC, 2020). This literature review will better inform and educate others on the treatment, transmission, prevention, and diagnosis of rabies. One area that will require further research is how the virus affects the brain. With a better understanding of the pathophysiology, a more effective treatment plan could be developed.

First Advisor

Kari Potter

Research Area

Medical Laboratory Science

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