Forms of rabies
There are two forms of rabies: furious and paralytic (sometimes referred to as dumb). The symptoms described herein are characteristic of the different forms, but an individual rabid animal would not necessarily show all the symptoms.
- The animal displays signs of extreme restlessness and aggression.
- It attacks objects, other animals, and even its own limbs.
- Fits of furious rabies generally alternate with periods of withdrawal.
Paralytic (dumb) rabies
- The animal may become withdrawn and seek seclusion.
- It may no longer be afraid of humans.
- A generally nocturnal animal may become active during the day.
- Symptoms of paralysis: Head and neck paralysis may result in an abnormal facial expression, excessive salivation, slackness of the head and jaw, and the making of strange sounds. Body paralysis normally begins with the hind legs and spreads to the rest of the body.
The symptoms described above are common to all species. Nevertheless, more specific signs can be observed in certain species of domestic animals infected with the rabies virus.
Cattle rarely develop furious rabies but, when they do, they may attack humans. A characteristic sign of rabies in cattle is abnormal bellowing, which may be continuous or intermittent, and lasts until the animal dies. Milk production in dairy cows infected with rabies will drop off suddenly.
Horses may show signs of distress and agitation. These signs, accompanied by rolling, give the appearance of colic. Rabid horses can be prone to aggression and self-mutilation.
Rabid pigs display rapid chewing, lack of coordination, and repetitive headshaking.
Sheep infected with the rabies virus have a hoarse bleat, tend to lick objects, and become aggressive.
There are no treatments for wild or domestic animals exposed to the rabies virus. Death generally occurs within 10 days of the onset of clinical signs.