Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). It is zoonotic (i.e., transmitted by beasts), most commonly by a bite from an infected subject. Roughly, ninety-seven percent of human rabies cases come from dog bites.
The rabies virus travels to the brain by following the peripheral nerves. The incubation period of the disease is usually a few months in humans, depending on the distance the virus must travel to reach the central nervous system.
The time between infection and the first flu-like symptoms is normally two to twelve weeks, but can take as long as two years. Once they appear, the symptoms expand to slight or partial paralysis, cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior, paranoia, terror, hallucinations, progressing to delirium. Producing large quantities of saliva and tears coupled with an inability to speak or swallow is typical during the later stages of the disease. This can result in hydrophobia, where the patient has difficulty swallowing because the throat and jaw become slowly paralyzed, show panic when presented with liquids to drink, and cannot quench their thirst.
Once the rabies virus reaches the central nervous system and symptoms begin to show, the infection is effectively untreatable and usually fatal within days. Death almost invariably results two to ten days after first symptoms. Remember that symptoms do not begin for 2-12 weeks after being exposed (bitten) to an infected animal. However, it is only prudent for us to tell you that Rabies can be a deadly disease. Please make a wise decision and if you feel you need medical attention, we encourage you to seek it.