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Symptoms in Humans, Risk Factors, and Stages

Symptoms of rabies are similar to those of the flu, accompanied by discomfort such as fever or headache. The time between exposure and the appearance of signs of rabies is called the incubation period. This condition can last for weeks to months.

Rabies: Symptoms in Humans, Risk Factors, and Stages

Symptoms of Rabies in Humans

Basically, the symptoms of rabies do not appear immediately because the rabies virus can exist in the body for 1 to 3 months. Early symptoms of rabies in humans will appear once the virus passes through the central nervous system and affects the brain.

The first rabies symptom that can be a sign that something is wrong is a fever. Apart from fever, tingling or burning sensation at the wound site can also be felt. Once the virus has spread through the central nervous system, you will experience more severe symptoms, including:

  • Headache.
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
  • Easily agitated or confused.
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Become afraid of water (hydrophobia).
  • Excessive saliva production.
  • Inability to move some parts of the body.

Understanding the Stages of Rabies Symptoms in Humans

If a rabies patient experiences further symptoms as above, this indicates that the condition has worsened. In fact, rabies can cause paralysis, coma, to be the cause of death.

It should be noted that rabies can develop in four different stages. Here’s the explanation:

1. Incubation period

The incubation period is the time before rabies symptoms appear. It usually lasts from 3 to 12 weeks, but can take as little as 5 days or more than 2 years. The closer the bite is to the brain, the faster the effect will appear.

When rabies symptoms appear, this virus can be very threatening to health conditions. Anyone exposed to the virus should seek medical help immediately without waiting for symptoms.

Also Read: Can People with Asthma Have Pets?

2. Prodromal period

The prodromal period has flu-like initial symptoms, here are some easily recognized symptoms, including:

  • Fever appears, body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more.
  • Sore throat and cough.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Discomfort at the site of the bite.

Please note, that some of the symptoms above can last 2 to 10 days, and this condition can get worse over time.

3. Acute Neurological Period

  • Partial paralysis, involuntary muscle spasms, and spastic stiff neck muscles.
  • Hyperventilation or difficulty breathing.
  • Produces a lot of saliva.
  • Fear of water because of difficulty swallowing.
  • Hallucinations, frequent nightmares, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Priapism or permanent erection in men.
  • Photophobia or fear of light.

Towards the end of this phase, breathing becomes fast and inconsistent.

4. Coma

This one symptom of rabies is the most dangerous, because in just a matter of hours a person can die unless the patient is on a ventilator. Even so, it is rare for someone to recover optimally when they are at this stage.

Also Read: 7 Bloodsucking Animals That Can Be Dangerous to Health

Rabies Infection Risk Factors

After you get a complete explanation of the symptoms of rabies as above, there are certain situations that put a person at a higher risk of experiencing rabies, including:

  • Lives in areas inhabited by bats. Although dogs are responsible for the majority of rabies cases worldwide, bats are responsible for most of the deaths from rabies.
  • Live in an area where you can easily get contact from wild animals.
  • Under 15 years of age (rabies is most common in this age group).

Can Rabies Be Cured?

After being exposed to the rabies virus, you can have a series of injections to prevent infection from occurring. Rabies immunoglobulin is the first thing given to fight the infection.

After that, administering the rabies vaccine is the key to avoiding the virus. The vaccine can be given in five injections over 14 days. This protocol is known as post-exposure prophylaxis.

The Right Time to Get Medical Help

Seek immediate medical care if you are bitten by any animal or exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies.

Based on the nature of the injury and the situation in which the exposure to the virus occurred, the doctor can decide whether or not you should get treatment to prevent rabies.

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  3. Anonymous. What are the signs and symptoms of rabies. (Accessed 23 September 2019).
  4. Johnson, Shannon. 2015. Rabies. (Accessed 23 September 2019).
  5. Newman, Tim. 2017. What you need to know about rabies. (Accessed 23 September 2019).

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