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What is rabies and how do you get it?


Rabies is a particularly nasty disease that nearly always results in a fatality if it’s not treated. The disease itself is spread through the saliva of the carrier, whether that’s a raccoon, dog, or other animal. While the disease is not spread by urine or blood, it’s possible to get rabies from a scratch if the animal has licked its claws.

If you’re scratched or bitten by an animal with rabies, you can expect to receive rabies shots as a treatment. If you don’t receive the right care immediately, you could fail to know anything is wrong for several months. Once the virus works to the brain, it’s too late, in most cases, to save the person who is infected.

When you’re bitten, take note of the animal and try to keep it nearby or in a cage if possible. That way, it can be monitored and tested for rabies. You should wash out the wound for at least five minutes with soap and water to disinfect it. At that point, you should go to the doctor as soon as possible.

Rabies shots are given over the course of 14 days. There are five different shots given to help you avoid contracting the virus and to prevent it from spreading if you do. One shot is given in the arm, while the other is given near the bite.

Rabies has been reported in every state in the United States except for Hawaii, which is an island free of the virus. If you’re bitten by a dog of unknown origins or are bitten by a pet that has not been vaccinated, you may need to receive the shots and the owner may be held liable. You could work with your attorney to obtain compensation for the medical care you receive.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “People and Rabies,” accessed Oct. 26, 2015


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