Viral Diseases of the Nervous System Rabies. Rabies is a viral disease of the brain that has a mortality rate approaching 100 percent. The agent is an RNA virus of the family Rhabdoviridae. Transmitted from warm-blooded animals, the rabies virus affects the brain, causing neurological distress and paralysis in muscles. Paralysis of the swallowing muscles results in hydrophobia , the fear of water. Immunization with inactivated viruses may be rendered after the virus has been transmitted in a bite. Four or five inoculations in the shoulder muscle are sufficient to induce immunity and prevent the development of symptoms. Pre-exposure vaccination is also possible. Encephalitis. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain tissue, usually due to any of a variety of RNA-containing viruses. Among the kinds of encephalitis are
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