Rabies: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 4/5/2019

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.

REFERENCE:

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

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/5/2019

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