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Diseases » Rabies » Signs

Signs of Rabies

Symptoms of Rabies

The list of medical symptoms mentioned in various sources for Rabies may include:

Note that Rabies symptoms usually refers to various medical symptoms known to a patient, but the phrase Rabies signs may often refer to those signs that are only noticable by a doctor.

Signs or Symptoms of Rabies:

Rabies, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

The doctor will suspect rabies if someone has symptoms such as:

  • A short period of mental depression,
  • Restlessness,
  • Abnormal sensations such as itching around the site of the bite,
  • Headache,
  • Fever,
  • Tiredness,
  • Nausea,
  • Sore throat, or
  • Loss of appetite.
Other early symptoms include:
  • Stiff muscles,
  • Dilation (enlargement) of pupils of the eye,
  • Increased production of saliva, and
  • Unusual sensitivity to sound, light, and changes of temperature.
If the disease has progressed, a person will have episodes of irrational excitement which alternate with periods of alert calm. Convulsions are common. Most dramatic of all are the severe and extremely painful throat spasms suffered by the person when trying to swallow or even upon seeing liquids. This reaction to water, sometimes seen as a fear of it, is typical in people with rabies and gives the disease its medical name, hydrophobia.

A person usually dies from cardiac or respiratory failure within a week after the appearance of rabies symptoms, while the excited state is most prominent. If the patient survives this stage, muscle spasms and agitation stop, only to be replaced by a growing paralysis leading to death.

In human rabies resulting from the bite of a rabid vampire bat, excitement and hydrophobia are usually not present and paralysis usually starts in the legs and moves upward.

Once symptoms appear, the only treatment is strong support to help the person feel more comfortable. This support includes controlling the symptoms in the respiratory, circulatory, and central nervous systems.

People do not recover and eventually die from the infection. (Source: excerpt from Rabies, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Rabies, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

Early signs of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, fever, loss of appetite, and often, a change in phonation, such as a change in tone of a dog's bark. These signs are often slight, however, and people may not notice them. A few days after infection, the animal may be very restlessness and become very agitated and tremble. An affected dog may growl and bark constantly, and will viciously attack any moving object, person, or animal it comes across. This excited state usually lasts three to seven days, and is followed by convulsions and paralysis.

In some instances, signs of excitement and irritability are slight or absent, and paralysis develops within a few days of disease onset. In cases of this type, an early sign is often paralysis of the lower jaw, accompanied by increased drooling and foaming of saliva. The animal may appear to be choking on a foreign object. This is a dangerous trap for humans, who, in trying to help the animal, may expose themselves to infection without knowing it. (Source: excerpt from Rabies, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

More Symptoms of Rabies:

More detailed symptom information may be found on the symptoms of Rabies article. In addition to the above medical information, to get a full picture of the possible signs or symptoms of this condition and also possibly the signs and symptoms of its related medical conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by:

Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

These general reference articles may be related to medical signs and symptoms of disease in general:

What are the signs of Rabies?

The phrase "signs of Rabies" should, strictly speaking, refer only to those signs and symptoms of Rabies that are not readily apparent to the patient. The word "symptoms of Rabies" is the more general meaning; see symptoms of Rabies.

The signs and symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible signs and symptoms of Rabies. This medical information about signs and symptoms for Rabies has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of Rabies signs or Rabies symptoms. Furthermore, signs and symptoms of Rabies may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of any signs or symptoms and whether they are indeed Rabies symptoms.


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