Rabies Symptoms

In Animals

Animals suffering from rabies may act differently than normal.

  • Wild animals may seem friendly or tame.
  • Animals may appear drunk, wobbly, or disoriented, or circle repeatedly.
  • They may seem partially paralyzed.
  • They may mutilate themselves - bite at a paw or leg, for instance.
  • An animal may be oddly agitated and seem to bite at something that's not there.
  • They may have a hard time eating or drinking.
  • Sometimes, but not always, in the very last stages of the disease before death, a rabid animal may drool a lot or have frothy saliva around the mouth. It's rare to see this. (Note - opossums sometimes hiss, drool, and sway as part of a bluffing routine, but they typically do not carry rabies.)

If you see a wild animal that seems sick, contact your local animal control office, veterinarian, or wildlife rescue/rehabilitation group for help. Do not handle sick wildlife.

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Rabies

In Humans

If you are ever bitten or scratched by an animal that could possibly have rabies, you will need to get a series of shots (vaccines) over a two-week period to stop the rabies virus from infecting your body.

Without this treatment, anyone who is exposed to rabies will almost certainly die. There is no cure for rabies once symptoms develop.

If you think you may have been exposed to rabies, apply first aid to the wound and seek medical treatment immediately.

Symptoms in humans can include:

  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sometimes itching or pain at the site of exposure
  • Paralysis
  • Convulsions
  • Death


Health Infectious Diseases Rabies Symptoms