How does rabies affect the body?

The rabies virus uses the body's nerves as a pathway to its ultimate destination -- the brain. From there it invades the salivary glands, causing the patient to salivate too much and making it easy to spread the virus through a bite. Unless treated, rabies eventually settles in the brain, reproducing until the patient begins to act strangely and eventually dies. However, patients who get rabies treatment before they feel any symptoms will not suffer or experience the serious consequences.

Continue Learning about Rabies



Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that can affect the nervous system of any mammal, including humans. Rabies-infected animals typically spread the disease through their saliva. It can be transmitted to humans when they bite a ...

person, or when the saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with a person's mouth, eyes, nose or a fresh wound. Signs of rabies in animals may include excessive saliva or sometimes foaming at the mouth, paralysis or behavioral changes in a pet (shyness when the pet used to be friendly). Rabies is nearly always fatal unless treated. If you suspect you’ve been exposed to rabies, get immediate medical treatment. Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) shots can kill the virus if given before symptoms start -- which may be anywhere from 10 days to over a year after the virus enters your body.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.