Is Rabies Contagious Between Humans?

Is Rabies Contagious Between Humans?

Is Rabies Contagious Between Humans?

When it comes to infectious diseases, the focus usually turns to viruses. Some viruses, like the ones that cause Influenza and the common cold, are considered highly contagious. They spread quickly and easily, and can even lead to outbreaks and pandemics. However, not all viral infections are this contagious. A common question about rabies is whether or not it can spread between humans.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is considered a fatal viral infection. When cerebral dysfunction, a common symptom of rabies, starts to develop, it’s considered to be 100% fatal, which is why programs focusing on post-exposure prophylaxis are so important.

The virus that causes the rabies disease is called Lyssaviruses. It’s a family of viruses that have been found in all contents throughout the world, except for one: Antarctica.

In approximately 95% of cases, the victim that develops rabies is in either Africa or Asia. However, that doesn’t mean people from other continents cannot be affected by the infectious disease.

If someone is infected with the virus, the initial symptoms will usually seem like the flu. Fever, headache, discomfort, and weakness are common among the early symptoms of rabies.

Over the course of a few days, the symptoms tend to become worse, to the point where they cause confusion and anxiety, as well as cerebral dysfunction. The infection is also known to cause muscle spasms in the larynx and throat, increase the amount of saliva that a patient’s mouth produces, and cause strange behavior.

How do You Get Rabies?

The main cause of rabies is from animal bites. When an animal is infected with rabies, and bites a human, then there’s a risk that the virus will transfer to the human.

In most cases of rabies in humans, the bite came from a dog. Domestic dogs can become infected with the virus. When they bite a human, be that their owner or someone else, the virus can spread from their saliva into the bloodstream of the human.

That’s mainly how you get rabies. However, one thing to keep in mind is that there are several animals that can carry the virus. Something to keep in mind here is that the virus only affects mammals. Some animals that are commonly affected include dogs and cats, as well as wolves, bats, skunks, and raccoons.

In the United States, rabies from bats is a leading cause of death from this illness. In fact, about 770% of cases where a person dies from rabies are linked back to infected bats.

Can Rabies Spread Between Humans?

Since rabies is a viral infection that spreads through the means of wounds and saliva, as well as blood, many people wonder if the disease is contagious to other humans. When one human is infected, will they be able to carry the virus over to another human?

The short answer is no. There is no documented evidence that rabies can spread from one human to another in normal circumstances.

However, some documented cases of organ transplants causing the transmission of rabies have been recorded previously. The very first case of this was documented in 1978. An organ transplant was done. The donor had rabies, and the rabies was transmitted to the recipient of the organ. There have been other cases that reported similar findings.

This is why there have been new regulations introduced, where donors need to be screened and asked about potential exposure to an animal infected with the rabies virus.

How is Rabies Treated?

Rabies can’t be treated once the virus reaches a person’s brain. It’s considered to be fatal in most cases at this point. Some signs that the virus has reached a point of fatality is when the person starts to have delirium and hallucinations, insomnia, and a fear of water. It can take between two and 10 days for these clinical signs to show up after exposure.

Early intervention is the only thing that can truly help to prevent the infection from becoming fatal. This means getting shots to protect the body against the virus after exposure. If someone thinks that they’ve been exposed to rabies, they should immediately report this to their doctor to get post-exposure prophylaxis.


Rabies is a fatal illness, but it’s considered to be highly preventable. Apart from a vaccine, getting post-exposure prophylaxis can save lives. It’s important to understand the symptoms and recognize the possibility of rabies early. That can help to ensure treatment is provided before it progresses.