Signs & Symptoms of Rabies

An infected individual may start to display symptoms about 20 to 60 days after exposure. Animals affected by the rabies virus may become either aggressive and combative or lethargic and listless. In humans, the signs and symptoms of Rabies often occur late in the disease. The incubation period of the virus lasts usually for 30 to 50 days and is mostly symptom-free. After this stage, the individual may start experiencing certain symptoms. About 2 to 10 days later, the symptoms become severe. Death may occur due to cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. The individual may also go into a coma which can last for many months.

The signs and symptoms of rabies are as follows:

  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Hydrophobia or fear of water
  • Excessive salivation
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleeplessness
  • Paralysis, partial or whole

It is important to seek urgent medical assistance in case of any animal bite. The doctor will then determine if it is necessary to administer anti-rabies vaccination. Even if there is a suspicion about an animal bite, it is important that you seek immediate medical care. Because of the high mortality rate, its best to be cautious and seek vaccination if you have had any exposure to an animal that you know or have learned suffered from rabies. Even if you have not been bitten, saliva or bodily fluid could have come in contact with any broken skin and caused infection. One also needs to see a doctor if there has been a close encounter with a bat.

Frequently asked questions
  1. Wolfgang Haupt, Rabies – risk of exposure and current trends in prevention of human cases, Vaccine, Volume 17, Issues 13–14, January 1999, Pages 1742-1749, ISSN 0264-410X, 10.1016/S0264-410X(98)00447-2.
  2. George M. Baer, 1 - The History of Rabies, In: Alan C. Jackson and William H. Wunner, Editor(s), Rabies (Second Edition), Academic Press, Oxford, 2007, Pages 1-22,I, ISBN 9780123693662, 10.1016/B978-012369366-2/50003-8.