Health A-Z

Rabies: What You Need To Know


Rabies is a viral disease that is preventable only with preventive vaccines.

It’s a virus that attacks the central nervous system. Once symptoms start to manifest, the condition is 100% fatal. The most common reason for Rabies is domestic as well as stray dogs.

The virus spreads through the Saliva of the infected animal or human. The Saliva enters the body through cuts and scratches. The most common age group to get the virus are children between 5 and 14. 


The Saliva of an animal carrying Rabies coming in contact with scratched skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth is how Rabies spreads. From there, it travels to the brain or nervous system and shuts down the body. 

Rabies spread through the bite of a rabid animal. Coming in contact with an infected animal’s blood, urine, or feces also transmits the disease. 

Animals That Are Known To Carry Rabies:


Almost all mammals can carry rabies, irrespective of their place of living. Among the wild animals, foxes, skunks, bats, and raccoons are usual carriers of rabies. Raccoons also often make their abodes in our houses. 

Domestic animals like dogs, cats, and cattle can carry rabies. 

Signs to look for in a sick animal that may carry Rabies,

  • General illness.
  • Difficulties in swallowing
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Bites at imaginary objects.
  • Being Extra Docile.
  • Animals that may be paralyzed or have trouble moving.
  • A bat that can’t fly

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Rabies In Humans?

The signs and symptoms of rabies manifest when the virus has successfully traveled to the brain. The period from getting infected to symptoms manifestation is called the Incubation Period. If the disease is diagnosed and treated at this stage, a patient can become completely cured. So, early detection and treatment are important. 

After the incubation period, there are three more stages through which an affected person goes. Those three stages are:

  • Prodromal Phase
  • Acute Neurologic Phase
  • Coma

Incubation Period 

The incubation period depends on the following:

  • Distance of the brain from the exposure site 
  • Type of rabies virus
  • Existing immunity

Here are the signs and symptoms of Rabies,

The earliest symptoms of Rabies are like the common cold symptoms, i.e., weakness or discomfort, fever, or headache.

From there, in a week or a maximum of 15 days, the symptoms become severe, like cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and agitation. As the situation worsens, there are symptoms like delirium, deviant behavior, hallucinations, hydrophobia, and insomnia. 

Prodromal Phase

At the prodromal phase, the deadly virus gets into the nerve cells of your spine and brain. Also, the virus starts its damaging activities. The immune system tries to combat the virus. As the virus becomes active in your nervous system, the patient experiences numbness, pain, or tingling sensations in various parts of your body.

Further, at the prodromal phase, the patient will suffer from various symptoms. Those are:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscle Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore Throat
  • Cough
  • Pain, tingling, or inflammation in the bite wound. 

The prodromal phase is the second phase of the disease. At this stage, there are no effective treatments or cure remedies. 

Acute Neurologic Phase

At this stage, the rabies virus becomes more active, and it severely damages the nervous system. Patients at this stage usually become paralyzed. The paralytic symptoms start from the place of bite or wound. It slowly transfers to other parts of the body. These symptoms can last up to a month.

When a patient suffers from paralytic rabies at this stage, they experience stiffness in the neck. They also suffer from discomforts like fever and headache. In addition, different parts of the body become weak at this stage, and the patient has sensations like needle piercing. 

However, some patients also suffer from furious rabies at the acute neurologic phase. They have seizures. Some of them even become aggressive, and some become disoriented in their thoughts. These symptoms last for a few days to a week. 

There are many other symptoms of furious rabies, and those include:

  • A sudden increase in salivation
  • Twitching of muscles
  • Hallucinations
  • Tachycardia and fast breathing
  • Facial paralysis
  • Aversion to water (even drinking), also known as hydrophobia
  • Aerophobia, or the fear of fresh air


This is the final stage of rabies infection, and the patient eventually succumbs to death. 

When To Seek Medical Attention?

Seek Medical Attention

It’s always a good practice to be careful around stray and wild animals since Rabies requires preventive care. However, if you have been injured, scratched, or bitten in the company of a wild or stray animal, you should talk to your healthcare professional as soon as possible to rule out the chances of Rabies

Your immediate reaction should be to clean the wound with soap and water to eliminate and stop the virus from entering the body. After that, contact the healthcare provider and discuss vaccination options. 

Rabies is a deadly virus, and the worst part is that until the symptoms manifest, you won’t even realize you have been infected. Hence, stay vigilant when caring for stray and wild animals. 

Can Rabies Be Prevented?

Yes, rabies can be prevented if you get in touch with your healthcare provider immediately after a rabid animal bites or scratches you. There are medicines that stop the deadly virus from entering the nerve cells of your brain and spine. However, once you are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, you must wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Get in touch with the healthcare provider immediately to make the process of washing your wound more effective.

The doctor will inject you with an anti-rabies vaccine. You will need to take four shots within a span of 14 days. If you are already vaccinated, you will need to take two shots. This vaccine helps your body to combat the deadly virus and kill it before it enters your brain. 

Your doctor will also administer shots of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) near the wounds. These shots provide your body with the necessary antibodies to fight the rabies virus in your body. However, HRIG is not required if you have already taken the vaccine before the rabies attack. 

The Diagnosis And Treatment Of Rabies

There are many tests to diagnose rabies, and those include skin biopsy, saliva test, MRI, blood tests, and cerebrospinal fluid test. 

The treatment of this disease is only possible immediately after you are bitten or scratched by the animal or during the early Incubation Period. Once the symptoms become prominent, there will be no treatment for the disease. 

Final Words 

Rabies, a viral disease, cannot be treated if you don’t seek medical help immediately. Once the virus reaches your brain, there is no medicine to kill it. Even the blood-brain barrier, the natural strainer between our brain and the blood vessels, cannot keep this virus away.

So, be careful and contact your healthcare provider immediately, even if you are bitten by animals who don’t have the symptoms of rabies. 

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Debamalya Mukherjee
Debamalya is a professional content writer from Kolkata, India. Constantly improving himself in this industry for more than three years, he has amassed immense knowledge regarding his niches of writing tech and gaming articles. He loves spending time with his cats, along with playing every new PC action game as soon as possible.

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