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Yes, Rabies Can Be Life-Threatening. Here’s What You Need to Know

October 19, 2021 by The Parrish Law Firm

Rabies. When you think about this disease, an image of a bat, raccoon or even a werewolf with foam dribbling out of its mouth might pop into your head, but what about the image of a dog?

Here’s the thing; While it’s not very common, dog bites can lead to rabies, and rabies can lead to swelling of the brain and spinal cord, and this virus’s attack on our central nervous system can eventually lead to death. In fact, according to the CDC, over 59,000 people die from rabies each year, and approximately 99% of them have been bitten by a dog with rabies. Also, did you know that 10 times more cats than dogs carry rabies? If you’ve been bitten by an animal, domesticated or not, you need to contact your doctor and get checked out as rabies, especially because rabies can lead to death, but is also preventable. When it comes to rabies, the key is to fight the virus as quickly as possible.

What Is Rabies and How Does It Affect People?

Rabies is a virus that belongs to non-segmented, negative-stranded RNA genomes known as Mononegavirales. 

Once a person is bit by an animal infected with rabies, there is an incubation period, which is the amount of time it takes for a virus to take a foothold in one’s body, that is commonly 3 weeks to 3 months long. It is important to mention that in some instances, rabies incubation periods can range from 1 week to 1 year. 

To start, the onset of rabies typically involves flu-like symptoms. This includes muscle aches, tingling and fever, along with burning at the site of your bite. There are two types of rabies: Furious rabies and Paralytic rabies. 

Furious rabies results in people behaving in a hyperactive and erratic manner. People exposed to Furious rabies may also see symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing, foaming at the mouth and hydrophobia. 80% of rabies cases involve Furious rabies. 

Paralytic rabies typically has a longer incubation period. People with Paralytic rabies become paralyzed over time, which will eventually lead to those exposed falling into a coma, followed by death. 

Who Carries Rabies? 

Both domesticated and non-domesticated animals can carry and spread rabies. The animals that are most likely to be carriers that infect people are the following: 

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Bats
  • Cows
  • Horses
  • Rabbits
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Monkeys
  • Skunks
  • Goats

How Is Rabies Spread?

Rabies is typically spread from either animal to animal or animal to human. Human to human transmission is an extremely rare occurrence. The most common cause for rabies spread is by an unvaccinated dog biting a human.

Once the rabies virus enters the human body, it spreads through the central nervous system to one’s brain. There is some hypotheses surrounding head and neck bites spreading to one’s brain and spinal cord more quickly. If a dog has bitten your head or neck, it is urgent that you seek medical attention immediately. 

Rabies Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no test that can help one determine whether they’ve been exposed to rabies until symptoms are present. Once present, doctors use blood, tissue and saliva tests to determine if the virus is present in one’s system. 

Regardless of this, if you’ve been bitten by a wild animal, your doctor will likely give you a preventative rabies vaccine in order to prevent the virus from progressing. Rabies is incurable once it has set in, but currently available injections can prevent the virus from setting in. A combination of rabies antibodies and the rabies vaccines are typically administered to avoid the disease’s progression. In many circumstances, Animal Control may try to find the animal that bit you and test it for rabies. If the animal is in the clear, you may not have to get any shots. If finding the animal is not possible, taking these shots preventatively can save your life. 

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, rabid or otherwise, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the Parrish Law Firm at (571) 229 – 1800 or here for a FREE legal consultation and advice related to your case. 


About Jim Parrish

Jim Parrish’s vision has always been to bring peace to clients whose lives have been turned upside down by their personal injuries and from dealing with unscrupulous insurance companies. With over 20 years of personal injury experience, as well as prior experience working with the insurance companies, Jim is well versed in the tricky ways that insurance companies try to scheme their way out of paying damages to deserving injured persons. 

For the first several years of his career, Jim Parrish worked for, provided advice to and represented insurance companies in claims across the nation. However, after seeing the injustice of good people being deprived of fair and reasonable payment for life-changing injuries and damage, Jim decided to use the skills and knowledge he learned from inside the insurance industry to champion the rights of victims of harm and wrongdoing. 

Jim’s practice is exclusively limited to personal injury matters arising from car/motorcycle/trucking accidents, dog attacks, products liability, and more.

If you have been involved in a personal injury, call the Parrish Law Firm for a FREE legal consultation today at (571) 229 – 1800. 

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