What is rabies? Rabies is an infectious viral disease transmitted to humans from animals. Rabies is transmitted to humans from the bite of an animal that is rabid, meaning that the animal is carrying the rabies infection. Raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes tend to be the primary sources of animal-to-human transmission. Rabies affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Although initial symptoms may resemble the flu, such as fever, chills or headache, the infection can progress quickly to agitation, hallucinations, paralysis, and eventually if untreated—death. Once the clinical symptoms of rabies develop, the infection is almost always fatal. Advances in post-exposure rabies vaccines have drastically reduced the annual number of deaths from rabies over the last century, from more than 100 in the early 1900s, to one or two in the 1990s (Source: CDC). Rabies is a very serious, life-threatening condition that can progress quickly. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you are bitten by an animal and, particularly, if you begin to develop any of the symptoms of rabies, including agitation, anxiety, confusion, convulsions, difficulty swallowing, drooling, headache, itching or irritation around the bite region, low fever (lower than 102 degrees Fahrenheit), muscle spasms, numbness or tingling, or restlessness.