Rabies is one of the most feared viral diseases in the world, known for its high mortality rate once symptoms appear. This virus affects the central nervous system and is primarily transmitted through the bites of infected animals. In this blog, we will explore in depth what rabies is, its symptoms, how it is transmitted, treatment options, and preventive measures to protect both animals and humans.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is caused by a highly contagious virus from the Lyssavirus genus that infects the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. This virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and is primarily transmitted through bites. Once the virus enters the body, it travels along the nerves to the brain, where it causes acute inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, almost always resulting in death if not treated immediately after exposure.

Symptoms of Rabies

The symptoms of rabies appear in several phases and progress rapidly once they begin. The early signs may resemble flu symptoms and can include:

  • Fever: An increase in body temperature.
  • Headache: Can be intense and persistent.
  • Weakness or general discomfort: Feeling extremely tired.

As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms affecting the central nervous system start to manifest. These may include:

  • Confusion and agitation: Behavioral changes and disorientation.
  • Anxiety: Sensation of fear or panic without an apparent cause.
  • Hypersalivation: Excessive production of saliva, also known as “foaming at the mouth.”
  • Hydrophobia: Fear of water, caused by throat spasms and difficulty swallowing.
  • Hallucinations: False sensory perceptions.
  • Partial paralysis: Weakness or loss of movement in parts of the body.
  • Seizures: Uncontrolled muscle movements.

Once these symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal. Death usually occurs within a few days of the onset of advanced symptoms.

Transmission of Rabies

Rabies is primarily transmitted through the bites of infected animals, as the virus is present in their saliva. However, it can also be transmitted through scratches or if infected saliva comes into contact with mucous membranes or open wounds. Animals most commonly transmitting rabies include:

  • Dogs: Mainly in areas with poor vaccination programs.
  • Bats: An increasing cause of rabies in humans in some regions.
  • Cats: Can transmit the virus if they are not vaccinated.
  • Raccoons, foxes, and skunks: Frequent carriers in certain geographic areas.

Treatment of Rabies

If rabies exposure is suspected, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Prompt treatment can prevent the onset of the disease. Measures include:

  • Wound cleaning: Washing the wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP): A series of vaccines administered immediately after suspected exposure can prevent the disease if given before symptoms appear.

Once rabies symptoms develop, there is no effective treatment, and the disease is almost always fatal. Therefore, prevention and swift action are essential.

Prevention of Rabies

Prevention is key to controlling rabies. Measures include:

  • Vaccination of pets: Ensure your dogs, cats, and ferrets are vaccinated against rabies according to your veterinarian’s recommendations.
  • Avoiding contact with wild animals: Do not approach or handle wild animals, especially if they appear sick or disoriented.
  • Vaccination of people at risk: People who work with animals or travel to areas where rabies is common should consider preventive vaccination.


Rabies is a devastating viral disease that affects the central nervous system and is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. The key to protecting yourself and your pets is prevention, mainly through vaccination and avoiding contact with potentially infected animals. If you suspect you have been exposed to the rabies virus, seek medical attention immediately for preventive treatment. Stay informed and take proactive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved ones and pets.