Many of us come into contact with dogs on a regular basis, whether at home, at the park, or while walking through the neighborhood. But can these seemingly lovable animals give you rabies? Below, we’ll delve into the main causes of rabies in humans, as well as what to do if you are bitten by a rabid dog so that you can be prepared in case of an emergency.
People bitten by aggressive dogs deserve aggressive representation. If you or a loved one has suffered from a dog bite, the Albany dog attack lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck have your back. With over 40 years of experience serving Albany residents, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your case is in good hands.
Call us at 518-456-0082 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your dog bite case.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a virus that is spread to humans through infected animal bites and affects the central nervous system. The virus travels through saliva and is often transmitted through an animal bite or scratch that results in broken skin. After infection, rabies can damage a person’s brain and spinal cord, eventually causing them to fall into a coma and die.
How Many People Suffer From a Rabies Infection Every Year?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 59,000 human rabies deaths every year across the globe. There are very few cases of rabies in the U.S. due to mass vaccinations of domestic animals, but in developing countries with large wild animal populations, rabies transmission is much more common. Rabid dogs cause most rabies deaths worldwide, accounting for 90% of all reported cases and 99% of all deaths.
Rabies Symptoms in Humans
The incubation period can range anywhere between 10 days to 7 years, but, on average, people can begin to experience the first symptoms of rabies within 3 to 12 weeks of exposure.
After incubation, those infected with rabies will likely experience flu-like symptoms before suffering from other symptoms, such as:
- Hydrophobia (fear of water)
- Excessive drooling
- Different-sized pupils
- Aerophobia (fear of drafts of air)
- Tingling and weakness, especially around the site of the bite
Most rabies cases end in death, so anyone who a dog bites must receive immediate medical care, even if they are not yet experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Can You Get Rabies From a Dog Bite?
Yes, you can get rabies from a dog bite. Most human rabies cases today are the direct result of dog bites. The rabies virus can also be transmitted by other common carriers such as raccoons, skunks, bats, small rodents, and other mammals.
How Can You Tell if Dogs or Wild Animals Have Rabies?
It can be hard to tell whether or not a wild or domesticated animal has rabies just by looking at it. To definitively diagnose an animal with rabies, they need to undergo laboratory tests. However, since rabies affects the central nervous system, the dog or other rabid animal may exhibit certain strange behaviors that are consistent with rabies. Some of these behaviors include excessive drooling and unprovoked aggression.
Can the Rabies Virus Be Eliminated?
Yes, the rabies virus can be eliminated. Rabies vaccinations can be given to both humans and animals, which could cause worldwide rabies infection rates to decrease significantly.
Rabies Vaccine in Humans
Humans can receive the human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) vaccine after rabies exposure to help prevent further rabies infection. Humans can also receive preventative rabies shots, but those are usually only administered to those who have a high likelihood of being exposed to rabies. This includes park rangers, researchers, and animal disease control staff, who are more likely to be in contact with rabies-infected animals.
Rabies Vaccine in Dogs
The best way to prevent rabies transmission is by administering rabies vaccines in dogs, the primary source of rabies infections. After all, dogs can’t spread rabies to humans if they themselves can’t contract the virus. A widespread animal vaccination could help lower the number of infected animals worldwide, which can help prevent many humans from contracting the rabies virus.
What to Do if You’re Bitten By a Dog That Might Have Rabies
Animal bites can be stressful and terrifying, and dealing with them at the moment can be incredibly difficult, especially if you’re dealing with pain from the attack. If you or your child has potentially been exposed to the rabies virus, there are several steps you need to take in order to protect yourself and prevent infection.
Get Away From the Dog
One of the first things you should do after being bitten by a dog is to get away from the dog safely. If you can leave the area or get inside a car or building, do so. This can prevent you from suffering additional harm.
Gather Information and Documentation
If possible, gather information from the dog owner. While rare, domestic dogs can carry rabies, so you must ask the dog’s owner about their dog’s vaccination status. This can not only help you, but it can also help prevent others from being infected with rabies by coming into contact with that dog.
Also, gather contact information from anyone who witnessed the attack or who was involved in the situation, like the dog’s owner. This can help you in any future legal proceedings resulting from the dog bite. Take pictures of the area where the bite occurred and the bite wound, if you can.
Seek Medical Attention
If you have suffered from a dog bite and you suspect the dog has rabies, you must go to the emergency room immediately. Medical professionals can provide you with rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to help prevent you from contracting the virus. PEP will often include thoroughly cleaning the bite wound and a rabies vaccination.
PEP is the most effective treatment against rabies and can prevent you from contracting the rabies infection, even after direct exposure. After providing you with PEP, medical providers can also provide you with additional wound care, like stitches and antibiotics, if needed.
Contact the Local Authorities
In New York, anyone who a dog bites must report the biting animal to their local animal control authorities or the state authorities within 24 hours of the bite occurring. Albany residents and other New York residents can report the bite online or call 311 to report it.
The local health department can run laboratory tests on the dog to help determine whether or not the dog has rabies and can enforce a quarantine on the dog until it is confirmed not to have rabies. Not only can this help you determine whether or not you need a rabies shot, but it can also help the state keep track of dogs with a history of violence toward humans.
Can You Sue if You Got Rabies From a Dog Bite?
Yes, if you have been bitten by a dog and have contracted rabies, you can sue the dog’s owner or handler by filing a personal injury lawsuit against them. Also, if an animal bites your child and causes them to contract rabies, you can sue the negligent party on your child’s behalf with the help of our Albany child injury lawyers.
While it’s extremely rare, people can survive rabies after being infected, but they will most likely have suffered permanent neurological damage. If your loved one has passed away as a result of contracting rabies, or they’ve survived rabies but are no longer physically able to file a claim for compensation on their own, their immediate family can sue for compensation on their behalf.
Regardless of the situation, if you or a loved one has suffered from damages from rabies from a domesticated dog, call Bailey, Johnson & Peck. Our skilled Albany personal injury attorneys are experienced in dog bite cases and can help you recover the maximum compensation for your injuries. Call us at 518-456-0082 to schedule a free case evaluation with a legal representative on our team.
Damages for Dog Bites
The damages a person can recover in a personal injury lawsuit depend on their losses. While damages are awarded on a case-by-case basis, victims of dog bites or their families can potentially recover compensation for damages such as:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning potential;
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Scarring or disfigurement;
- Permanent disability;
- Lost enjoyment of life;
- Embarrassment; and
- Funeral and burial expenses in the event of wrongful death.
Call an Albany Dog Bite Lawyer at Bailey, Johnson & Peck Today
Rabies is a terrifying disease that can be incredibly life-threatening. If you or a loved one has been exposed to rabies by a domesticated dog, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the animal’s owner. We at Bailey, Johnson & Peck are committed to helping injury victims recover fair compensation for their losses and can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.