Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that can affect the nervous system (brain and spinal cord) of any kind of mammal, including humans. Rabies-infected animals can spread the disease through their saliva or brain matter.
Signs of rabies in animals may include excessive saliva or sometimes foaming at the mouth, paralysis, or behavioural changes in a pet (shyness when the pet used to be friendly) or no fear of humans in a wild animal.
After rabies symptoms appear, the disease progresses quickly and is very difficult to cure. Getting post-exposure prophylaxis shots (PEP) before symptoms occur usually gets rid of the virus before it can cause serious damage. Rabies is nearly always fatal if not treated before symptoms appear.
People who believe they may have been exposed to the rabies virus should seek medical attention immediately.
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine