Rabies is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system, primarily causing inflammation in the brain. Typical symptoms start with flu-like signs and escalate to more severe issues like hallucinations and paralysis. The disease can be fatal if not treated immediately after exposure.
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What Happens in the Initial Phase?
When you’re first exposed to the rabies virus, usually through a bite from an infected animal, you might not feel anything out of the ordinary. However, symptoms can appear within a few days or take several weeks to manifest. Initially, you’ll likely experience:
- Muscle aches
Progressing to Acute Symptoms
After these initial signs, you might think you’re getting over a flu-like illness, but the symptoms then progress to a more acute phase. These include:
The Dreadful Neurological Stage
As the virus continues to spread through your body, it starts affecting your central nervous system. At this point, you could experience:
Hydrophobia: A Unique Symptom
One of the most distinctive symptoms of rabies is hydrophobia or fear of water. This occurs because the virus affects your ability to swallow, making it extremely painful to drink liquids.
In People with Weakened Immune Systems
For those who have a compromised immune system, symptoms might appear more rapidly and be more severe. In such cases, immediate medical attention is crucial.
Examples of Other Symptoms
Additionally, you might notice other symptoms that are less common but still significant:
- Difficulty speaking or swallowing
- Numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes
When to Seek Medical Help?
If you suspect you’ve been exposed to rabies, don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Seek medical help immediately for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), a series of vaccinations that can prevent the onset of symptoms and the progression of the disease.
According to the CDC
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. Therefore, it’s essential to get medical attention as soon as possible after suspected exposure.
The symptoms of rabies are not to be taken lightly. This disease can go from seemingly innocuous flu-like symptoms to life-threatening neurological issues in a short span of time. Immediate action can make all the difference, so consult a healthcare provider if you believe you’ve been exposed to the virus.