Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

How can you prevent rabies?

Small dog


Group of people


Rabies in the U.S. and around the world

Map of the United States of America


Map of the world


How Can I Help?

woman vaccinating a puppy against rabies

CDC receives calls and e-mails from individuals asking how they can help make a difference in the fight against rabies.


Get Email Updates

To receive email updates about this page, enter your email address:

What's this? Submit