The Rabies Vaccine
What You Need to Know
- What is rabies?
- The rabies vaccine
- Who should get the rabies vaccine and when?
- Tell your doctor if...
- What are the risks from the rabies vaccine?
- What if there is a moderate or severe reaction?
- What is the national vaccine injury compensation program?
- How can I learn more?
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a serious disease. It is caused by a virus.
Rabies is mainly a disease of animals. Humans get rabies when they are bitten by infected animals.
At first there might not be any symptoms. But weeks, or even months after a bite, rabies can cause pain, fatigue, headaches, fever, and irritability. These are followed by seizures, hallucinations, and paralysis. Human rabies is almost always fatal.
Wild animals - especially bats - are the most common source of human rabies infection in the Unites States. Skunks, raccoons, dogs, cats, coyotes, foxes and other mammals can also transmit the disease.
Human rabies is rare in the United States. There have been only 55 cases diagnosed since 1990.
However, between 16,000 and 39,000 people are vaccinated each year as a precaution after animal bites. Also, rabies is far more common in other parts of the world, with about 40,000 - 70,000 rabies-related deaths worldwide each year. Bites from unvaccinated dogs cause most of these cases.
Rabies vaccine can prevent rabies.
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