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Rabies is a Viral Infection Caused by a Virus

Updated on March 3, 2013

Rabies is Serious and Deadly

Rabies is a serious and deadly, viral infectious disease that afflicks warm-blooded mammals, such as humans and animals. Mammals, usually, are infected through bites or scratches from infected animals, such as dogs, or wild animals. Wild animals that carry rabies are: raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Birds, reptiles and fish do not get infected with rabies, because they are cold-blooded. Rabies infects the Central Nervous System (CNS) and causes disease in the brain and spinal cord. Rabies is preventable as vaccinations of dogs for the rabies virus has reduced or eliminated cases of rabies from dog bites in the United States, but not true in third world countries. Rabies causes the brain to become inflamed (Encephalitis). Rabies is transmitted from infected animals to humans, when humans are bitten or scratched by the infected animal. The disease is zoonotic. Zoonotic means that it is a disease that can be transmitted from one species to another. The rabies virus is deadly if left untreated, and a bite from a strange dog or wild animal should be reported immediately by calling 911.. Animal Patrol should be notified immediately and medical treatment should be start as soon as possible.

A Dog with Rabies

Rabid dog with saliva dripping from its mouth.
Rabid dog with saliva dripping from its mouth. | Source


Rabies Worldwide Map
Rabies Worldwide Map | Source

Rabies Family and Disease

The rabies virus has a distinct bullet shape, and the virus is classified in the Rhabdoviridae family. Rhabdoviridae viruses are 180 nm long and 75 nm wide. The rabies virus enters through the bite or scratch from an animal that has the virus. The virus enters into the wound and begins to replicate itself very rapidly, beginning at the wound site, then it travels to the brain to cause the disease rabies. A rabid animal may be extremely aggressive and vicious. A dog with rabies may appear to be very angry or in a rage. Rabid animals can, also, appear lethargic and weak. When humans or animals have rabies there are high concentrations of the virus in the saliva. The high concentrations of the virus in salvia is what causes drooling, and foaming at the mouth of animals that are rabid. Drooling and foaming at the mouth are classic signs of rabies. An animal with rabies that appears to be lethargic and weak have the "dumb" form of rabies.

Video of Deadly Rabies Disease

Rabie Symptoms

Early symptoms of rabies are like many other diseases and include: headache, fever, general weakness and discomfort. As the disease progresses, the symptoms become more specific. The specific symptoms of rabies are, and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, increase in saliva, difficulty in swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death may occur within days after the onset of these symptoms. The rabies virus is spread through the infected saliva from the bite, where the virus enters, and starts to replicate itself quickly. Rabies is a horrifying and deadly disease.

Bats in caves are known to carry rabies. Although rare, rabies can occur with out an actual bite or scratch. For instance, in bat caves there may be infected saliva in the air from infected bats that carry rabies.

The History of Rabies

The rabies virus has a history that goes back to 3500 B.C., to Babylonian times, where people could be heavily fined if their dogs with rabies, caused the deaths of other people, after biting them and infecting them with the rabies virus. The rabies virus goes back to Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and Crete. The rabies virus spread throughout the world through time. The rabies virus is one of the oldest diseases known to man. The word "Rabies" comes from the Latin word: Rabere, which means rage or rave.

In 1881, two Frenchman did research on Rabies to find a cure. The two Frenchman were Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux. Louis Pasteur was a chemist and Emile Roux was a physician and scientist, who was the assistant to Louis Pasteur. Roux created the rabies vaccine.

Cujo is the Stephen King novel and movie about a dog that gets rabies and terrorizes a mother and her son in their car. Rabies has been in other movies, as well.

Rabies Animation and Symptoms


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    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Thanks you, holdmycoffee. I've always heard about rabies, and its a very deadly disease. Raccoons can carry it, too, as well as bats. Its scary!

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Thanks, holdmycoffee. I thought that it was real scary, too. I'll be extra careful, too. There are raccoons in the town that I live and they can carry rabies, so its important to be careful of them.

    • holdmycoffee profile image

      holdmycoffee 5 years ago

      Gail, what a great informative article! (Also very scary, I did not realize it is deadly for people.) Thank you for this information. I will be extra careful now.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      I think that its scary stuff, too, Deborah! That raccoon could have been very sick, for sure. Animal control should of helped. Sometimes I would walk to work early when its still dark out, and once in awhile I would see raccoons. They go into the storm sewer openings. I saw one that stared at me, and it was creepy. I would never want to get close to one. Someone said that they are really mean! I'd be afraid to let the dog out, too. I'd never want any raccons near my cats! I keep them (two) in the house, because there are so many hazards out there.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      Scary stuff, Gail! Once we had a raccoon up by the front door of our house and it appeared to be sick. I was afraid to let my dog go outside until I was sure the raccoon was gone. I tried to get animal control to come help, but they wouldn't. A good reminder of the importance of getting all pets vaccinated!