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What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a serious viral disease that can spread through an infected animal’s bite. The virus can be carried by raccoons, bats, skunks, foxes or other wild animals, or by pets and farm animals.

An infected animal can be aggressive or vicious. In some instances, the animal may appear tired and weak. If approached, they are likely to bite.

A potential rabies infection is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.


Once rabies symptoms occur, the disease is usually fatal. A series of shots can prevent rabies after exposure to the virus, but you must get them right away.

Rabies symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Paralysis

Exposure to the rabies virus is a medical emergency. If an animal bites you, wash the wound and affected area thoroughly and get immediate medical care.

Treatment Options

Treatment for rabies requires immediate evaluation from a doctor. To help prevent rabies:

  • Vaccinate all pets against rabies.
  • Vaccinate any farm animals against rabies.
  • Do not let pets roam freely.
  • Don’t approach stray animals.

If you suspect that an animal has rabies, notify animal-control officials.

If you have been exposed to the virus, your doctor can test you and prescribe a series of shots. They must be started immediately and be fully completed according to your doctor’s instructions.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of rabies, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat rabies.