Imovax Rabies

1 What is Imovax Rabies?

Brand: Imovax Rabies, Rabavert

Generic: Rabies vaccine

Imovax Rabies is used to prevent infection by rabies virus. Rabies virus causes inflammation of the brain of humans and animals that are fatal in almost all cases. Rabies vaccine works by provoking the body’s immune defenses against rabies virus, so it kills the virus before it begins to infect nerve cells and travel to the central nervous system.

Rabies virus is transmitted to humans by animals like dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. Rabies virus remains prevalent in wild mammals in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Rabies infection causes symptoms after an incubation period of around 1 to 3 months, after which it causes symptoms. Symptoms include high fever, headache, paralysis, irrational fear of water and confused, aggressive behavior. Once neurological symptoms (paralysis, aggressive behavior) set in, rabies usually leads to death.

There is no medicine to treat rabies infection once symptoms started to appear. Rabies vaccine prevents rabies if given within 10 days after the animal bite. Patients who have not received rabies vaccines before must also take Rabies immune globulin. Rabies vaccine can also be given ahead of time to individuals facing a high risk of rabies infection such as veterinarians, animal handlers, cavers, zookeepers or travelers.

Only a doctor or other health professionals can give you rabies vaccine.

2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Imovax Rabies, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it.

The doctor will have to consider the following before giving Rabies vaccine:

If you were bitten by an animal highly suspected of having rabies, it is recommended to have Rabies vaccine even if the animal has not yet been tested. Rabies vaccine will work only if it is given before the symptoms of rabies appear, so early treatment increases the chance of preventing the disease. If you have not received rabies vaccinations before, you also need to take rabies immune globulin too.

Tell your doctor if you have allergies to food, medicines, animal products, or if you experienced allergies to previous rabies vaccination. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant soon or breastfeeding before having Rabies vaccine injection. 

Rabies vaccine is an FDA pregnancy category C drug, which means it might pose a risk to the fetus when given to pregnant women. Rabies vaccine may also pose a risk to infants, which can be significant because many drugs are expressed through breast milk. Avoid breastfeeding if you have rabies vaccine injections.

Rabies vaccine may interact with medicines, so make sure to tell your doctor all the medicines you take. Rabies vaccine is known to interact with Chloroquine, a drug used for treating malaria. Drugs like Belimumab, Fingolimod, and other immunosuppressants may reduce the effectiveness of rabies vaccine. Taking blood thinners may also increase the risk of bleeding caused by injection of the vaccine.

You also have to tell the doctor if you have viral illnesses and immune system problems. Viral illnesses may be confused with side effects of rabies vaccine. Immune system problems may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Rabies vaccine can be given safely to children and individuals around or older than 60 years of age.

3 Proper Usage

To use Imovax Rabies properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor.

Rabies vaccine is given only in clinics and hospitals. For post-exposure prophylaxis or treatment after the bite, you also need to have rabies immune globulin injection with rabies vaccine if you have never been vaccinated before. The bite area is first cleaned with soap and plenty of water. You will be given four doses of rabies vaccine. The doctor will schedule injections of rabies vaccine at day 0, day 3, day 7 and day 14.

If you received rabies vaccine before or blood tests show there are still adequate rabies antibodies in your bloodstream, you would receive two doses of rabies vaccine. The injections are given at day 0 and day 3. There is no need for rabies immune globulin injection.

The dose of each rabies vaccine injection is 1 ml. It is injected into the muscle of your upper arm. In children, the rabies vaccine is injected into the muscle of the upper thigh. It is very important you do not miss any doses.

4 Precautions to Take

Before using Imovax Rabies, there are some precautions you must take.

Only a doctor or a nurse should administer rabies vaccine. Always stick to scheduled clinic visits and do not miss any doses. The doctor may order blood tests to see if your body is producing antibodies against rabies virus, which will tell if the vaccine is working. Do not take any other medication with rabies vaccine without telling your doctor first.

5 Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Imovax Rabies.

Rabies vaccine may cause the following side effects that may need medical attention:

  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Tingling, crawling, itching or sensation of ‘pins and needles.'
  • Difficulty moving
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sick feeling
  • Inflamed joints
  • Lack or loss of strength
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Tight feeling in the chest
  • Stiffness of the legs or arms
  • Swollen and painful lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin
  • Paralysis or severe weakness of legs
  • Swelling around the eyes, face and lips
  • Rashes
  • Having seizures
  • Shortness of breath

Here are other side effects of Rabies vaccine that are relatively minor:

  • Dizziness
  • Fever and chills
  • Redness, itching or swelling at the injection site
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Stomach discomfort

These symptoms should be temporary and will only last a few days. If these symptoms bother you, call your doctor.

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