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Rabies is a fatal viral disease of the nervous system. It is a notifiable disease.

First published:
19 November 2018
Last updated:

It can affect all mammals including humans. GB has been free of Classical Rabies since 1922. But, there is concern that rabies could be reintroduced through illegally imported mammals.

Suspicion and confirmation

Contact your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Office immediately on 0300 303 8268 if you suspect Rabies.

APHA vets will investigate suspected cases.

Clinical signs

The following clinical signs may be present:

  • anxiety/aggression and loss of fear of humans and other animals
  • sudden behaviour changes and unprovoked attacks
  • muscular weakness and seizures
  • drooling and inability to swallow
  • hydrophobia
  • death from progressive paralysis

Transmission and prevention

The virus is usually transmitted through a bite or scratch from an infected animal - most often, a dog.

Pets travelling to or from Great Britain on the Pet Travel Scheme must be vaccinated against rabies.