The virus of rabies mainly belongs to Mononegavirales, viruses that have non-segmented and RNA genomes that consist of negative strands. The virus of rabies can also be determined as lyssa or hydrophobia which is ordinarily a fatal, acute and viral infection that affects the brain and spinal cord nerves.

Bite of a rabid animal can transmit the rabies virus and it gradually infects the central nervous stem including the spinal cord and brain when it enters the body. The incubation of this virus starts within a month. During this time, the person experiences severe weakness, viral fever, anxiety, and nausea, headaches, hallucination, and muscle cramps.

Characteristics of Rabies Virus

  • Rhabdoviruses is generally 180 nm long and about 75 nm wide.

  • The genomes of rabies encode 5 protein molecules including nucleoprotein (N), phosphoprotein (P), matrix protein (M), glycoprotein (G) and polymerase (L).

  • The two major structural components that can be found in the structure of the rhabdoviruses include a core of RNP (helical ribonucleoprotein) and an envelope surrounding this RNP core.

  • The structure of the rabies virus also includes 2 viral proteins like L protein and phosphoprotein. L-protein is also determined as a polymerase which is the large protein remains associated with the RNP core.

  • The disease mainly affects the brain of the individual by affecting the nerve cells. Brain malfunction can be identified if the individual experiences hallucination, drowsiness, brain and spinal cord swelling, frequent headaches, and insomnia.

Figure 1: Structure of Rabies Virus

Causes of Rabies

The bite of any street animals, rats, or mice, can make the individual prone to this disease if their saliva contains the rabies virus. Over time, the virus will spread through the central nervous system weakening the spinal cord and brain functions. After the animal bite, the virus slowly spread through the nerve cells to the brain. Once the virus is transmitted to the brain it gets multiplied at a faster rate and that affects brain function. During this time, the individual experiences headaches, temporary memory loss, hallucination, nausea, insomnia, and severe cold and fever.

The virus then enters the body and starts multiplying itself and within a month, the incubation process happens which affects the entire central nervous system of the body. Various symptoms are there through which this disease can be well identified including frequent headaches, fear of water, muscle cramps, anxiety, abdominal pain, and drowsiness.

Symptoms of Rabies

The symptoms of rabies remain invisible until and unless the virus has travelled from the spinal cord to the brain. The spread of the virus within the body takes a month and the individual gets prone to sudden headaches frequently. As the virus mainly affects the brain the body suffers from symptoms like weakness, flu, discomfort, and viral fever. Other symptoms that can also be found due to rabies include headache, stomach or abdominal pain, drowsiness, and serve cold. Other severe symptoms caused by rabies are mentioned below.

Figure 2: Symptoms and Prevention of Rabies Virus

  • Rabies mainly causes brain swelling as the cells in the brain gets swelled up and it affects the central nervous system mainly the spinal cord.

  • Fear development of water bodies.

  • Rabies can also cause other illnesses including hallucination, insomnia, anxiety, and nausea.

  • Rabies causes issues like excessive saliva secretion and muscle cramps.

Treatment and Prevention of Rabies

The rabies virus can be transmitted to the brain through a bite of an animal, corneal transplant, and contact of saliva or mucous with wounds or broken skin of infected animals like street dogs, cats, and many more. Animals like bats and mice can also spread rabies virus that enters the human body through contaminated foods and water. No such effective treatments are there in case of this viral infection. Rabies is a preventable disease that can be diagnosed by antigen detection, virus isolation, molecular methods, and antibody detection.

Figure 3: Prevention and Control of Rabies Virus

Various management, control, and prevention of rabies can help to restrict the spread of the virus within the body. The prevention and control measures include post and pre exposure to prophylaxis and 2 doses of HDCV (Human diploid cell line vaccine) can be given at an interval of for weeks. Anti-rabies treatment and pet examination can also be done every month to keep the rabies virus away. Other than these, proper hygiene must be maintained in the living place including washing hands before eating, washing wounds with water and soap, and preventing bats from entering houses.


The disease rabies mainly spread among the animals like dogs, cats and wild carnivorous animals. Individuals can also get infected by the virus of rabies if they have pets in their house.

In fact, the virus generally attacks all warm-blooded animals including humans who are susceptible to the viral infection of rabies. The virus of rabies generally spread through contact, mucous, saliva, and infected tissues of any warm-blooded animal suffering from rabies for more than a month.


Q1. What is the other name for rabies?

Ans. Rabies is a viral infection that gradually affects the central nervous system of the body when it gets transmitted to the brain within a month. Other names for rabies are lyssa or hydrophobia which is ordinarily a fatal, acute and viral disease of the CNS.

Q2. How did rabies spread?

Ans. After the rabies virus enters the human tissues, it travels along the central nervous system and then ascends to the brain. The condition then gradually causes encephalitis. The process of incubation of this rabies virus within the body takes place in a month.

Q3. What are the main symptoms of rabies?

Ans. Various symptoms are there after the virus gets transported to the brain. Within a month, the incubation period starts and the individual suffers from sudden headache, insomnia, fever, and nausea.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023


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