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What are the symptoms of rabies?

Page last updated 06 January 2022

Rabies begins with an early phase of flu-like symptoms, e.g. 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. Cario-respiratory arrest leads to death after a few days.

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

Sources & Citations

1. NSW Government Department of Health, Rabies and Australian bat lyssavirus infection fact sheet. Available at: (accessed 07 December 2021).

5. World Health Organization. Rabies. Available at: (accessed 07 December 2021).

MAT-AU-2102482  Date of preparation January 2022