Rabies and Hydrophobia

Although the two words are often used as synonyms, they do not mean the same thing.

Rabies is a disease of dogs that can be transmitted to humans and other animals by biting. It occurs in two main forms:

furious rabies – unprovoked aggressive behavior progresses to muscle spasms, paralysis, coma, and death

dumb rabies -no aggressive behavior in the animal

A dog suffering from dumb rabies
A dog suffering from “furious rabies”
Lethargic dog suffering from dumb rabies
Lethargic dog suffering from “dumb rabies”

The word hydrophobia derives from Greek hydrophobos, “dreading water” (hydros, “water” and phobos, “dread, fear.”) An animal or person who dreads water, or who gags when trying to swallow water, is afflicted with hydrophobia.

Hydrophobia is a common symptom of furious rabies.

Strictly speaking, an affected animal has rabies, and may suffer from hydrophobia. The word hydrophobia itself can be applied in other contexts to indicate a fear or dread of water.

Hydrophobia can exist apart from rabies.
Hydrophobia exists apart from rabies.