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What are the symptoms of rabies?

Page last updated 10 July 2018

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

In the majority of cases, so-called “furious” rabies will present with altered behaviour including increased anxiety and hyperactivity, aerophobia (fear of drafts of air), and/or hydrophobia (fear of water), and pain or tingling at the wound site.

The person will deteriorate rapidly over approximately two weeks, resulting in paralysis, coma and death. “Paralytic” Rabies occurs in the minority of cases and progresses more slowly, as muscles become paralysed, with the common result of coma and death. 

Sources & Citations

  1. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition, 4.16 Rabies and other lyssaviruses (including Australian bat lyssavirus). Available at (accessed 5 April 2018).
  2. World Health Organisation, Rabies Fact Sheet. Available at (accessed 5 April 2018).
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rabies around the World. Available at (accessed 5 April 2018).

SPANZ.RABIE.18.04.0156a - Date of preparation May 2018