Rabies: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Rabies is a viral infection. The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system and is almost always fatal if untreated. Because of vaccination availability, transmission from dogs to humans is rare in developed countries.

Signs and symptoms associated with rabies include fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, irritability, headache, agitation, confusion, aggression, weakness, and muscle spasms. As the brain inflammation progresses, other symptoms can include confusion, paralysis, seizures, coma, and death.

Causes of rabies

The rabies virus causes rabies. Wild animals (particularly bats and raccoons) sometimes carry the virus in their saliva, and most cases of rabies in humans trace back to animal bites. Other causes can include inhalation of the virus in bat caves of laboratory accidents or contracting the virus from contaminated transplanted donor tissue.

Other rabies symptoms and signs


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.