Rabies is a viral disease that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and death in mammals, including humans. It is caused by the rabies virus, which is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. A few people die of the disease each year in the United States, usually because they do not recognize the risk or seek medical attention after being bitten by a wild animal.
Rabies is treatable if it is caught in time. However, if treatment has not been started before a person develops symptoms, there is no cure, and the disease is almost always fatal.
(To learn more about this disease, including details on the animals most likely to transmit it, click Rabies.)