In most cases of rabies, symptoms first appear one to three months after infection with the virus. Early symptoms are often similar to those seen with the flu and may include fever, headache, and general tiredness. In addition, the infected person may experience discomfort, numbness, or pain at the site of the bite. Progressive symptoms of rabies can include such things as insomnia, slight or partial paralysis, hallucinations, and hydrophobia (fear of water).
When a person is infected with the rabies virus, the virus multiplies within the body until symptoms develop. This time period between infection and the onset of symptoms is called the incubation period. The rabies incubation period may vary from a few days to several years, but is typically one to three months.
When the rabies virus reaches the brain, it multiplies quickly and rabies symptoms begin. Over the next week, the rabies virus causes encephalitis and ultimately death.
Early rabies symptoms in humans are similar to flu symptoms.
These early symptoms can include:
- General tiredness
- Discomfort, numbness, or pain at the site of the bite.
As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear and may include:
- Slight or partial paralysis
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hydrophobia (fear of water).