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Transmission & Symptoms
People can get rabies from animal bites or from infected saliva getting into their eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Brain tissue can also be infectious and should not be handled, such as when skinning an animal. Sometimes, rabid animals do not show any signs of illness before death from rabies. Thus, contact with wild animals should always be avoided. If a wild animal does not run away when you approach it, it may be sick or injured. Do not try to help it. If an animal is acting strangely, stay away from the animal and call your local rabies animal control office.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
The first sign of rabies is usually a change in the animal's behavior. Animals may act more aggressive or more tame than usual. Nocturnal animals like skunks, foxes and bats may be out during the day. Rabid animals may stagger, tremble, or seem weak. Bats may be found on the ground, unable to fly. Rabid animals may appear agitated and excited or paralyzed and frightened.
Risk Assessment & Prophylaxis
- CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Rabies Prevention Recommendations
- Risk Assessment Algorithm for Healthcare Providers
- Risk Assessment Algorithm: Cat & Dog Bites
- County Health Department Contacts for Rabies Risk Assessment
Human Ante Mortem Testing
- Post-Exposure Management
- Post Exposure Prophylaxis Vaccination Report Form for Physicians
- Kansas State University Rabies Lab's Rapid Fluorescent Foci Inhibition Test (RFFIT)