While rare, dog bites can cause a victim to be infected with rabies, an almost always fatal disease. Here’s what you need to know if you were bitten by a dog.

What You Need to Know About the Risks of Rabies Caused by Dog Bites

Dog bites—even small ones—can become infected and spread bacteria to parts of the victim’s body and carry other diseases. Infection and more serious diseases are more likely if the person’s skin is broken. While rabies is a fairly rare consequence of a dog bite, a dog bite victim can become infected with this virus, which is almost always fatal. Because of this, prompt medical care after any dog bite is essential.

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. While infected animals are usually wild animals, like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes, cats and dogs kept as pets can also infect a person when they bite. Once a dog bite victim is infected, the rabies virus will attack his nervous system and progress to diseases in the brain and death.

Death can occur within days of the emergence of symptoms, which can be similar to many common illnesses. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Personality changes, such as agitation, anxiety, hyperactivity, or confusion
  • Difficulty swallowing or excessive production of saliva
  • Hallucinations
  • Partial paralysis

What Are Treatments for Rabies?

Once a person is infected with rabies, there is no treatment for this fatal disease. Because of this, anyone who suspects that he has been exposed to rabies should get a series of shots to prevent rabies from developing. Rabies shots include the following:

  • A fast-acting rabies immunoglobulin shot given as soon as possible after the dog bite and near the dog bite wound to prevent the virus from infecting the person.
  • A series of additional shots are given to ensure that a victim’s body identifies and fights the rabies virus. These injections are usually given in the arm, and four shots will be administered over a period of 14 days.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a dog bite, you could be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner under Washington’s dog bite laws. To learn about your legal options and how we can help you settle your claim, call our office or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation today.