How does the rabies virus know which direction to travel in your nerve system?


Apparently it goes first upwards to your central nerve system and brain and then downwards to your organs. How does it know which direction it is going and should be going? Is there some kind of signpost system in body?

In: 12

Think of it at spreading back along the nerves to your brain, and then out from there to everywhere else. Kind of like if the disease started at the end of a tree’s branch, spread to the trunk, then the other branches and roots.

The virus doesn’t only move in one direction. Imagine you get the virus in your knee. It’ll spread in both directions, but it’s getting back to the spine and brain that allows it to spread everywhere.

It doesn’t really. However your brain and nerves have a layer of tissue around them that prevent them from getting infected by rabies through the blood. So rabies can only enter the nervous system at peripherial nerve endings, near the site of the initial wound and from there it only has one way to go.

Of course if a big nerve bundle or your spine or brain gets directly punctured that kindof bypasses that protective layer, but at that point you have a bit more severe problem in the short term.

just out, this video is great at explaining some of it.

The linked video is great. The tldw is that we don’t really know. We also don’t really know how the virus actually kills. It is an active area of research.