According to the
World Health Organization, rabies is most commonly found in domestic dogs, with more than 95% of
human deaths caused by dog-mediated rabies. It is transmitted through
the saliva of rabid animals and generally enters the body through existing
wounds (like scratches) and bites. Rabies cannot infiltrate skin that
is intact. Once the rabies virus reaches the brain, it replicates and
death is typically imminent. Rabies is preventable through vaccines, though,
and if you are bitten by a domestic animal infected with rabies, you may
have cause for a lawsuit against the animal’s owner. If you have
been bitten by a dog, one of the top Maryland personal injury lawyers at
The Law Offices of Robert Castro can help.
CDC stats on Rabies
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) maintains
statistics on cases of animal and human rabies from state health departments around the country. In the most recent 2015
report, 50 states and Puerto Rico reported 5,508 cases of rabies in animals
and only three human cases. The total number of reported cases decreased
by 8.7% when compared to results in 2014.
Domestic animals accounted for 7.6% of all rabid animals reported in the
US for that period; however, the number of rabid dogs increased from 59
to 67, and cats decreased from 272 to 244. Rabid cattle were on the rise
(85 as compared to 78) and rabid horses and mules decreased (to 14 from 25).
Why Rabies Vaccines are Important
With such low numbers reported on domestic animals, you might be wondering
what the risk of contracting rabies really is. While administering rabies
vaccines helps reduce the risk of contracting rabies from domestic animals,
those without vaccines can be at risk from wild animals. Typical wild
animals that most commonly carry rabies include bats (30.9% of cases in
2015), raccoons (29.4%), skunks (24.8%) and foxes (5.9%).
In animals, rabies can cause paralysis and a noticeable change in behavior
– either end of the spectrum as overly aggressive or unusually friendly.
You might see drool as muscles of the throat and jaw can become paralyzed,
or the animal might be suffering from seizures. In humans, rabies can
cause fevers, headaches, unusual tingling sensations, confusion, throat
muscles tightening, seizures, and more. Rabies is almost always fatal
once neurological symptoms have developed, with the disease-causing paralysis,
coma, and then death.
What to do if You Have Been Bitten
Whether it is a wild or domestic animal and you received a bite, immediately
wash the wound well with soap and water. You need to seek immediate medical
attention, which can be the difference between life or death in most cases
involving rabies bites. Get the owner’s information if the potentially
infected animal is domesticated. Report the bite to your local animal
control agency, health department, and/or police as well. If you believe
your pet was bitten by a rabies-infected animal, do not handle your own
pet within two hours, wear protective gloves, and wash your hands with
soap and water. If a wild animal has to be euthanized, you must keep the
head intact for testing as they confirm rabies in the brain.
Contacting a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been bitten by a domestic animal that has rabies, you have
legal rights. Symptoms may appear right away or not for months in some
cases. A minor bite that might not seem like much could turn into something
potentially serious, and become cause for legal action. It is important
to talk to an accident lawyer in Charles County Maryland who is experienced
with dog bite cases. Contact the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-705-5253 or
online. Free consultations are available.