Rabat – A man checked in to the University Hospital of Cruces in the Basque Autonomous Community in northern Spain after showing signs of necrosis, dying body tissue, in his forearm. Hospital officials have not yet confirmed the root of the man’s symptoms, but Osakidetza, the Basque Country’s public healthcare system, suspects that it is a case of rabies.
Given the evolution of the man’s symptoms and his stint in Morocco, a country affected by rabies, the decay in his arm may be due to a rabies infection.
Rabies is a viral infection that can be spread to humans by infected animals through bites and scratches. The virus targets the brain and spinal cord. If left untreated, rabies is fatal.
Although rabies is present on all continents except Antarctica, the disease is most commonly transmitted to humans in developing countries throughout Asia and Africa. Rabies can be present in both domestic animals and wildlife.
Symptoms of rabies infections in humans usually appear one to three months after the bite or scratch occurs. However, symptoms can emerge just days after exposure to the virus.
Symptoms include fever, anxiety, hyperactivity, convulsions, and delirium. At the wound site, patients feel pain or a tingling sensation. Patients suffering from rabies may also develop a fear of feeling moving air and swallowing liquids. In some cases, patients are paralyzed and fall into a coma.
After symptoms appear, affected patients often die within one or two weeks.
There are around 59,000 cases of rabies in humans globally each year, according to the World Health Organization.
In November 2018, a British tourist died after contracting rabies from a cat bite sustained in Morocco. Public Health England (PHE) then released a statement warning travelers to avoid contact with animals when traveling to rabies-affected countries.
“This is an important reminder of the precautions people should take when traveling to countries where rabies is present. If you are bitten, scratched or licked by an animal you must wash the wound or site of exposure with plenty of soap and water and seek medical advice without delay,” the PHE statement advised.