With widespread domestic pet vaccinations against rabies, getting the disease after a dog bite isn’t likely. However, it’s best to never to assume. Seek medical attention and be aware of the risk factors that could make rabies a concern after a bite.

Unvaccinated Dogs and Those Whose Status is Unknown

After a dog bite, one of the first things to do is verify that the dog is vaccinated against rabies. If the dog is not vaccinated, then a doctor may need to administer a rabies vaccine or human rabies immunoglobulin.

If the victim doesn’t know the dog and can’t locate the owner to verify vaccination status, doctors may have to assume the dog is unvaccinated and proceed accordingly. It’s important to contact local animal control for help finding the dog in this situation.

If the owner is located, it makes it much easier to check the dog’s vaccination status. If it can’t be verified for some reason, the doctor will likely give a series of shots just in case the dog does have the disease.

For instance, those bitten by a stray dog whose vaccination status is not apparent or obtainable may require these shots as a precaution. To verify whether the dog has rabies, it must be killed and its brain examined.

Observing Dogs for Signs of Rabies

Even if the dog appears healthy and was vaccinated, animal control may require isolating the dog and observing it for a period of time. Experts will watch for signs of rabies. If there is a suspicion or clear evidence it’s rabid, the bite victim will be vaccinated immediately.

Another risk factor is the severity of the bite and location. For instance, serious bites and those to the face and head create a greater urgency to vaccinate the victim because of the bite’s proximity to the brain, where the virus eventually travels and causes severe disease.

Of course, rabies isn’t the only concern that someone should have when bitten. It’s important to look for signs of other serious infections after the bite that could be just as serious. 

If you were bitten and require legal assistance to pursue compensation from the dog’s owner, call Jason R. Schultz at (404) 474-0804 for legal consultation.

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