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Rabies and Animal Bites

Rabies is a viral neuroinvasive disease transmitted by animals that causes inflammation of the brain.

Rabies infects humans and animals most commonly by a bite from an infected animal, but occasionally by other forms of contact with the virus such as a scratch. The virus is spread to humans from animals through close contact with infected saliva.

Rabies can be deadly if treatment is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms. Early-stage symptoms of rabies include lethargy, headache and fever. The rabies virus travels to the brain by following the peripheral nerves. Once the infection reaches the central nervous system and symptoms begin to show, the infection is practically untreatable and usually fatal within days.


How is it diagnosed?
Several tests are required. Samples of saliva, serum, spinal fluid and skin biopsies hair follicles at the nape of the neck will need to be submitted to your doctor.

What is the treatment?
Immediate treatment is considered most effective against rabies. Dallas County does not have the needed medication available. Physicians can order the vaccine directly from pharmaceutical companies.

Download DCHHS’ informative flyer on rabies to learn more.

To report a possible exposure to rabies or for more information, call 214-819-2004.

Visit www.cdc.gov/rabies/ or www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/rabies/ for more information.

For general questions or for more information about
Dallas County Health and Human Services please call 214-819-2000.

Ganesh Shivaramaiyer
Interim Director
Christopher Perkins, D.O., M.P.H.
Medical Director / Health Authority

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