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Dog and animal bites and the threat of rabies

Most people think it takes a bite from a rabid animal to come down with rabies. What many people do not know is that dog and animal bites are not the only way to contract the disease. Scratches, abrasions or even saliva from an infected animal can transmit the virus. Since 2008 in Maryland and all other states, there have been only 23 confirmed cases of human rabies.

A spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America says after an animal bite, symptoms may take several days, weeks or even months to surface. Some people experience flu-like symptoms, while others may only have discomfort around the bite area. Once infected, humans can experience excessive salivation, anxiety, hallucinations and confusion. Rabies invades the central nervous system and brain and can be fatal if not treated immediately

Experts recommend cleaning the wound with warm water and soap and getting immediate medical treatment. Doctors will begin a series of post-exposure vaccines for rabies. The initial dose will prevent the disease from moving into the central nervous system and will be followed up with three more doses strategically spaced out over a 14-day period.

In Maryland, vaccinating domestic pets for rabies is mandatory and is the first step in preventing rabies. Dog and animal bites can be a traumatic event and leave physical pain and emotional scars, especially if it is the result of a domestic animal. There are strict laws in Maryland that hold pet owners accountable for the actions of their pets. An experienced attorney can answer questions and explore legal options for his or her clients and determine if they are entitled to compensation.

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