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A closer look at rabies contracted by dog bites

When you are attacked by an animal, you are at real risk. Risk beyond the immediate damage; even beyond the psychological trauma that may result. With the recent coyote attacks on animals and humans reported in Bergen County, it stands to assume that animals who are not current on their vaccinations have an increased likelihood of contracting the rabies virus from wildlife and altercations with rabid animals. The threat of rabies via a dog bite is serious and it is deadly. If you've been bitten by a dog, don't wait to seek medical attention, even if the wound does not seem immediately life-threatening.

In fact, one member of a faculty associated with neurological disorders cautions that rabies encephalitis in humans and acquired by dogs or other terrestrial mammals are unequivocally fatal. Within the US, the only recovery of an untreated individual from rabies encephalitis contracted the virus from a bat.

It's important to know the virus can enter the skin through a break or via the eyes, nose or mouth mucous membranes and from there make its way to the brain, thus causing the infectious disease. Human hosts have seen symptoms develop on average between three and eight weeks, but some people have become symptomatic in under 10 days. In another incident, it took seven years to appear.

Once a human is infected with the rabies virus, acute viral encephalomyelitis (or swelling of the spinal cord and brain) occurs and eventually leads to death.

If the animal that attacked you is unknown or if you are unsure if it is current on its shots, it is recommended that you promptly call your doctor or seek emergency medical care after first washing the wound with water and soap and removing any surrounding garments possibly contaminated with the rabid animal's saliva.

Treatment of rabies is possible once a victim is exposed and a prophylaxis can prevent the virus. However, if you have been bitten by an animal and you are not its owner, after medical treatment, it may be very wise to contact a New Jersey attorney who has knowledge in handling animal bite cases.

Source: CityWatchLA.com, "LA Animal Services' Brenda Barnette: Hiding the Truth about Coyote Attacks and Rabies, or Clueless?" Phyllis M. Daugherty, Aug. 15, 2016

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