What are Rabies?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines Rabies as “A preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal”. The Rabies virus infects the central nervous system which causes disease in the brain and ultimately death.

What are the Symptoms?

Early symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • General Weakness and discomfort

If untreated more specific symptoms will appear which include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Partial or slight paralysis
  • hallucinations
  • excitation
  • agitation
  • difficulty swallowing
  • increase in saliva (hypersalivation)
  • fear of water (hydrophobia)

Death usually occurs within days after these symptoms appear.

What animals are Rabies vectors?

In rarer instances Possums and Woodchucks

How is Rabies contracted?

The most common way Rabies is transmitted is through saliva from an infected animal. The saliva is usually introduced to the uninfected animal through the way of a bite. To identify whether or not an animal has Rabies a test is required which involves euthanizing the animal and taking two pieces of tissue from separate areas of the brain. In humans testing requires more technical steps that involve taking samples from various parts of the person such as saliva, hair, and spinal fluid to name a few.

How is Rabies cured?

Your first step is to apply first aid and then immediately consult a physician. Treatment usually starts with wound cleaning. Your doctor will assess the severity of the wound and treat it accordingly. If you have received a Rabies vaccination in the past you may only need a booster. If you have not received a vaccination, one should talk with your doctor who may give you a Rabies vaccination along with a Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG).

*Remember to always follow the steps given to you by your doctor or medical physician as protocols and procedures may change and each case is different.


Click the CDC logo to be redirected to their Rabies page.

Westchester Dept of Health

Click the Westchester Dept. of Health to be redirected to their Rabies page.