Rabies is a dangerous viral infection. People most commonly get it from a bite by an animal infected with the rabies virus. Bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes are common culprits, and coyotes also sometimes have rabies. Rabies is passed through the saliva, so a bite is the most common mode of transmission.
Symptoms of Rabies
Rabies symptoms start out subtle and typically consist of fever, headache and weakness. More serious symptoms may appear after anywhere from two to 10 days. These include anxiety, confusion, insomnia, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing and partial paralysis. Once rabies has reached this stage, it may be too late to save the person. Death is the typical outcome within a few days of the onset of severe rabies symptoms.
Prevention and Treatment
The rabies vaccination is the best method for preventing rabies. Vaccinations are readily available and should be administered at regular intervals to prevent rabies infection. A person who is bitten should immediately clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water, and then seek medical care. Typically, the wound will be treated with an agent that kills viruses. If a bite victim is not vaccinated for rabies, a health care provider will administer a dose of rabies vaccine and a treatment called human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) at the same time. Other care may also be needed to treat the wound left from the animal bite. The health care provider will administer three additional doses of the rabies vaccine after the first dose. Those are given three, seven and 14 days later.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention