What is rabies?

Rabies is spread by infected saliva that enters the body through a bite or broken skin. The virus travels from the wound to the brain, where it causes swelling, or inflammation. This inflammation leads to symptoms of the disease. Most rabies deaths occur in children.

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Rabies (RAY-beez) is a serious disease, caused by a virus (germ), that affects the central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of nerves, the brain, and the spine. Rabies usually spreads through the bite of a rabid animal. Animals that may spread rabies include dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats. Rabies occurs when the virus enters the skin and goes to the muscles or nerves. The virus may then go to the brain or other body parts by traveling through the nerves.

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Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite.

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Rabies is a disease humans may get from being bitten by an animal infected with the rabies virus. Rabies has been recognized for over 4,000 years. Yet, despite great advances in diagnosing and preventing it, today rabies is almost always deadly in humans who contract it and do not receive treatment. Rabies can be totally prevented. You must recognize the exposure and promptly get appropriate medical care before you develop the symptoms of rabies.


Rabies is a deadly animal disease caused by a virus. It can happen in wild animals, including raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes, or in dogs, cats or farm animals. People get it from the bite of an infected animal. In people, symptoms of rabies include fever, headache and fatigue, then confusion, hallucinations and paralysis. Once the symptoms begin, the disease is usually fatal. A series of shots can prevent rabies in people exposed to the virus. You need to get them right away. If an animal bites you, wash the wound well, then get medical care.

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Rabies is an infection of the central nervous system that can affect all warm-blooded creatures, including humans. Rabies is also known as hydrophobia (fear of water).

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Rabies Immune Globulin

Baltazard M, Bahmanyar M, Ghodssi M, et al: Essai pratique du sérum antirabique chez les mordus par loups enragés. Bull WHO 13:747-72, 1955. Habel K, Koprowski H: Laboratory data supporting the clinical trial of antirabies serum in persons bitten by a rabid wolf. Bull WHO 13:773-9, 1955. Selimov M, Boltucij L, Semenova E, et al: [The use of antirabies gamma globulin in subjects severely bitten by rabid wolves or other animals.] J Hyg Epidemiol Microbiol Immunol (Praha) 3:168-80, 1959. Atanasiu...

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CDC - Rabies

Comprehensive information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Rabies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic (i.e., transmitted by animals), ...

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Rabies is a serious infection of the nervous system that is caused by a virus. Rabies is usually transmitted by a bite from an infected animal.

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WHO | Rabies

Rabies is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted to humans from animals) that is caused by a virus. The disease infects domestic and wild animals ...

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The rabies vaccine is expensive, although scientists are trying to develop a lower cost vaccine. If you have been bitten by a suspect animal and cannot get the vaccine from the country where you have been bitten, you should return to the UK immediately for medical treatment.

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Where possible, the animal suspected of having rabies should be captured and watched for 5-10 days.

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Exams and Tests
If an animal bites you, try to gather as much information about the animal as possible. Call your local animal control authorities to safely capture the animal. If rabies is suspected, the animal will be watched for signs of rabies.

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Reliable data on rabies is scarce in many areas of the world, making it difficult to assess its full impact on human and animal health. The annual number of deaths worldwide caused by rabies is estimated to as high as 70,000 mainly in densely populated countries in Africa and Asia.

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Medical advice
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if an animal bites you.

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Outlook (Prognosis)
It's possible to prevent rabies if immunization is given within 2 days of the bite. To date, no one in the United States has developed rabies when given the vaccine promptly and appropriately.

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Possible Complications
Untreated, rabies can lead to coma and death.

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Preparing for your appointment
If an animal bites you, seek medical attention for the wound. Also tell the doctor about the circumstances of your injury. The doctor will ask: What animal bit you?; Was it a wild animal or a pet?; If it was a pet, do you know to whom the animal belongs?; Can you describe the animal's behavior before it bit you? Was the animal provoked?; Were you able to capture or kill the animal after it bit you?

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To help prevent rabies:Avoid contact with animals you don't know.; Get vaccinated if you work in a high-risk occupation or travel to countries with a high rate of rabies.; Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines by 4 months of age, followed by a booster shot 1 year later, and another one every 1 or 3 years, depending on the type of vaccine used.; Follow quarantine regulations on importing dogs and other mammals in disease-free countries.

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Risk factors
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

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It can take anything from one week to more than a year for symptoms of rabies to appear after infection, although the average time is four to eight weeks. This is known as the incubation period. The closer the bite is to the head, the shorter the incubation period. A bite to the face, head or neck will have a shorter incubation time than a bite to the arm or leg.

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Treatments and drugs
There is no specific treatment for rabies infection. Though a small number of people have survived rabies, the disease is usually fatal. For that reason, anyone thought to have been exposed to rabies receives a series of shots to prevent the infection from taking hold.

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