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What are the symptoms of rabies?

Page last updated 27 March 2020

Rabies begins with an early phase of flu-like symptoms, eg cough, fever, and headache.

The majority of people who contract rabies develop the so-called “furious” form of the disease and will present with altered behaviour, including increased anxiety and hyperactivity, aerophobia (fear of drafts of air), hydrophobia (fear of water), and pain or tingling at the wound site. The person will deteriorate rapidly over a short period of up to 12 days, resulting in paralysis, coma and death. 

“Paralytic” rabies occurs in the minority of cases and progresses more slowly, as muscles become paralysed, resulting in coma and death. 

Sources & Citations

3.    Australian Government, Department of Health. The Australian Immunisation Handbook. Rabies and other lyssaviruses. Available at: (accessed 10 March 2020).
6.    World Health Organisation. Rabies Symptoms. Available at: (accessed 17 March 2020).

SPANZ.RABIE.18.04.0156(1)a - Date of preparation March 2020