An allergy to water seems like an improbable condition. After all, water is a chief chemical component in the human body, accounting for at least 60 percent of the average person’s weight.
Water whisks toxins out of critical organs, ferries nutrients to hungry cells and creates the humid conditions needed for ear, nose and throat health.
In short, water is essential to life
In the case of water allergies, only the skin is affected.
People with this condition can still safely drink water. It’s only when water of any temperature or origin touches the skin that a hypersensitive allergic reaction occurs.
The condition, known as aquagenic urticaria, is called an “allergy” but isn’t medically classified as a true allergy. It’s actually an allergy-like reaction that belongs to a subset of physical urticaria, a group of conditions characterized by hives or welts that arise from stimulation of the skin.
In the case of aquagenic urticaria, red, swollen, itchy bumps form when water touches the skin.
This histamine reaction isn’t directed at the water itself, but is most likely a reaction to a water-soluble antigen that stimulates antibodies. Any type of water distilled, tap or rain will cause an outbreak almost immediately and can make bathing or getting caught outside in a rainstorm a torturous proposition.
Aquagenic urticaria is so rare that fewer than 100 occurrences have been recorded in medical literature since the first cases were described in 1964.
It affects women more than men and most often begins in puberty. It’s usually diagnosed by putting the skin into prolonged contact with water. In Allen’s case, physicians asked her to soak in a tub of water to diagnose the condition.
The cause of water “allergies” still eludes experts. One theory is that sweat glands could be the culprit. It’s possible that sweat glands in certain people produce a toxin that leads to an allergic reaction with water.
While researchers remain unsure of the root cause of the condition, most cases can be treated with antihistamines and controlled by avoiding contact with water as much as possible.
Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals.
The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite.
Animals most likely to transmit rabies in the United States include bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks. In developing countries of Africa and Southeast Asia, stray dogs are the most likely to spread rabies to people.
Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal. For this reason, anyone who may have a risk of contracting rabies should receive rabies vaccines for protection.
The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to the flu and may last for days. Later signs and symptoms may include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive salivation
- Fear of water (hydrophobia) because of the difficulty in swallowing
- Partial paralysis
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical care if you’re bitten by any animal, or exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies. Based on your injuries and the situation in which the exposure occurred, you and your doctor can decide whether you should receive treatment to prevent rabies.
Even if you aren’t sure whether you’ve been bitten, seek medical attention. For instance, a bat that flies into your room while you’re sleeping may bite you without waking you. If you awake to find a bat in your room, assume you’ve been bitten.
Also, if you find a bat near a person who can’t report a bite, such as a small child or a person with a disability, assume that person has been bitten.
If a person is bitten or scratched by an animal that may have rabies, or if the animal licks an open wound, the individual should immediately wash any bites and scratches for 15 minutes with soapy water, povidone iodine, or detergent.
This might minimize the number of viral particles.
Then they must seek medical help at once.
After exposure and before symptoms begin, a series of shots
can prevent the virus from thriving. This is usually effective.
A fast-acting dose of rabies immune globulin :
Delivered as soon as possible, close to the bite wound, this can prevent the virus from infecting the individual.
A series of rabies vaccines :
These will be injected into the arm over the next 2 to 4 weeks. These will train the body to fight the virus whenever it finds it.
It is not usually possible to find out whether the animal has rabies or not. It is safest to assume the worst and begin the course of shots.
A small number of people have survived rabies, but most cases are fatal once the symptoms develop. There is no effective treatment at this stage.
A person with symptoms should be made as comfortable as possible. They may need breathing assistance.
Rabies infection is caused by the rabies virus. The virus is spread through the saliva of infected animals. Infected animals can spread the virus by biting another animal or a person. In rare cases, rabies can be spread when infected saliva gets into an open wound or the mucous membranes, such as the mouth or eyes. This could occur if an infected animal were to lick an open cut on your skin.
Animals that can transmit the rabies virus
Any mammal (an animal that suckles its young) can transmit the rabies virus. The animals most likely to transmit the rabies virus to people include:
- Pets and farm animals
- Wild animals
In rare cases, the virus has been transmitted to tissue and organ transplant recipients from an infected organ.
- Factors that can increase your risk of rabies include:
- Traveling or living in developing countries where rabies is more common, including countries in Africa and Southeast Asia
- Activities that are likely to put you in contact with wild animals that may have rabies, such as exploring caves where bats live or camping without taking precautions to keep wild animals away from your campsite
- Working in a laboratory with the rabies virus
- Wounds to the head or neck, which may help the rabies virus travel to your brain more quickly
To reduce your risk of coming in contact with rabid animals:
Vaccinate your pets. Cats, dogs and ferrets can be vaccinated against rabies.
Ask your veterinarian how often your pets should be vaccinated.
Keep your pets confined. Keep your pets inside and supervise them when outside. This will help keep your pets from coming in contact with wild animals.
Protect small pets from predators. Keep rabbits and other small pets, such as guinea pigs, inside or in protected cages so that they are safe from wild animals. These small pets can’t be vaccinated against rabies.
Report stray animals to local authorities. Call your local animal control officials or other local law enforcement to report stray dogs and cats.
Don’t approach wild animals. Wild animals with rabies may seem unafraid of people.
It’s not normal for a wild animal to be friendly with people, so stay away from any animal that seems unafraid.
Keep bats out of your home. Seal any cracks and gaps where bats can enter your home.
If you know you have bats in your home, work with a local expert to find ways to keep bats out.
Consider the rabies vaccine if you’re traveling. If you’re traveling to a country where rabies is common and you’ll be there for an extended period of time, ask your doctor whether you should receive the rabies vaccine.
This includes traveling to remote areas where medical care is difficult to find.
Why does rabies cause a fear of water?
Rabies used to be known as
hydrophobia because it appears to cause a fear of water.
Intense spasms in the throat are triggered when trying to swallow. Even the thought of swallowing water can cause spasms. This is where the fear comes from.
The excess saliva that occurs is probably due to the impact of the virus on the nervous system.
If the individual could swallow saliva easily, this would reduce the risk of spreading the virus to a new host.