Can You Get Rabies From a Dog Bite?

Can You Get Rabies from a Dog Bite

Thanks to the famous movie, “Cujo,” you may be familiar with rabies, but dog and animal bites can result in rabies. While dogs are beloved companions in many of our homes, it’s crucial to understand the potential health risks associated with dog bites, particularly rabies. 

The San Antonio dog bite attorneys from Janicek Law will explain how rabies is transmitted, the signs to look out for, and the necessary steps to take if a dog bites you or a loved one. If you’ve suffered injuries from a dog or animal bite, contact Janicek Law at (210) 366-4949 to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate attorneys. 

What is Rabies?

Rabies Infection Compensation Texas

Rabies is a deadly viral infection that primarily spreads through the saliva of infected animals, often through bites or scratches. This virus attacks the central nervous system, leading to brain inflammation and severe symptoms. 

Rabies may cause fever, headache, and general weakness in the initial stages. As it progresses, more alarming symptoms appear, such as confusion, hallucinations, excessive salivation, fear of water (hydrophobia), and paralysis. 

Without prompt and appropriate treatment, rabies is almost invariably fatal. Vaccination and immediate medical attention after potential exposure are crucial in preventing the virus from progressing to a fatal stage. 

How Many Rabies Cases Occur Every Year?

In the United States, 5,000 cases of animal rabies are reported annually, with wildlife accounting for over 90% of these incidents. Domestic animals, including dogs and cats, comprise about 10% of the reported animal health cases. Thanks to widespread animal vaccination programs, animal control measures, vigilant surveillance, testing, and the availability of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), human cases of rabies in the U.S. are extremely rare. Each year, only around 1 to 3 human cases are reported, with about 70% attributed to bat bites. While human rabies deaths are uncommon in the U.S., the disease is almost always lethal if immediate medical attention is not sought after potential rabies exposure.

Can You Get Rabies Virus From a Dog Bite?

San Antonio Dog Bite Lawyer

Yes, it is possible to contract rabies from a dog bite if the dog is infected with the rabies virus. This sheds light on the importance of dog safety for kids. The virus is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal and can enter the body through bites, scratches, or open wounds. Although the risk is much lower in regions where dogs are regularly vaccinated against rabies, it remains a concern, especially in areas with high stray populations or low vaccination rates. 

If bitten by a dog, especially an unvaccinated or stray dog, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Prompt wound care and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can prevent the rabies virus from advancing to a fatal stage. It’s important to remember that once the symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is almost always deadly, making prevention and early treatment essential.

Human Rabies Symptoms

Symptoms in human rabies cases typically appear after an incubation period that can vary from a few weeks to several months following exposure to the rabies virus. The human rabies symptoms are severe and can be categorized into two stages: the initial or prodromal stage and the acute neurological stage.

  • Prodromal Stage: Early symptoms are nonspecific and include flu-like symptoms.
  • Acute Neurological Stage: Severe symptoms involve the nervous system, such as agitation, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), paralysis, seizures, and difficulty breathing, eventually leading to coma.

Most rabies deaths occur once the virus travels into the nervous system, which can happen quickly. Early post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is critical even before the symptoms of rabies appear to prevent the virus from advancing to this deadly stage.

How Can You Tell if a Dog Has Rabies?

Identifying dogs that carry rabies involves observing several key symptoms:

  • Behavioral Changes
  • Aggression
  • Foaming at the Mouth
  • Paralysis and Seizures
  • Disorientation

If a dog shows these symptoms, especially after potential exposure to rabies, it’s important to contact local animal control authorities or a vet immediately while avoiding direct contact.

What To Do After You’re Bitten By a Dog That Has Rabies Infection

Rabies Vaccines

If an animal bit you, and you suspect the wild animal is infected with the rabies virus, you must take appropriate action immediately. People bitten by a rabid animal should:

Get Away From the Dog As Soon As Possible

After the dog bite occurred, calmly but swiftly move to a safe location away from the rabid animal. Avoid making sudden or aggressive movements that could further provoke the biting animal. Once you are at a safe distance, assess your bite wound and visit the emergency room immediately.

Seek Medical Care

If bitten by a presumably infected animal, seeking immediate medical care is crucial. At the emergency room, providers will evaluate the circumstances of the bite wound and the rabies exposure to determine the necessity of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Starting PEP promptly is essential, as it involves an initial dose of rabies immune globulin and a series of rabies vaccinations, which are an effective treatment only if administered quickly. 

Documenting the animal bite and treatment, including rabies PEP, is essential for health records and may be crucial for insurance or legal purposes.

Gather Evidence of the Dog Bite and Rabies Infection Diagnosis

Take photos of the injuries, where the bite occurred, and the dog itself, if possible. Record contact information of any witnesses and keep all medical records, including details of first symptoms, other symptoms related to the case, rabies diagnosis, and treatment. Obtain the dog owner’s details and the dog’s vaccination history if available.

Contact the Local Authorities Concerning Animal Bites

Reporting the dog bite incident to the local health department is crucial as they play a key role in monitoring and controlling rabies in the community. They can also assist in locating the dog and its owner to verify vaccination status and monitor the dog for signs of rabies. 

Can a Rabies Infection Be Cured?

Below, we’ll explain the importance of rabies shots and why timely treatment is critical for humans and animals. 

Rabies Vaccine for Humans

The rabies vaccine is typically administered as part of a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) regimen, which is highly effective when given promptly after exposure via dog bites or animal bites. The PEP regimen usually includes a dose of rabies immune globulin, given as soon as possible after exposure, followed by a series of rabies vaccines spread over several days. The rabies shots work by stimulating the body’s nervous system to produce antibodies against the rabies virus, preventing the virus from causing illness.

Rabies Vaccine for Dogs and Wild Animals

Regular rabies shots are mandated in the United States for domestic dogs and are one of the most effective ways to protect pets and their human companions from this deadly virus.

Rabies vaccinations for wild animals are often carried out through the local health department or wildlife management programs. These programs may include distributing oral rabies vaccine baits in areas with high populations of wild animals known for rabies transmission. This includes common carriers, like small rodents, raccoons, skunks, foxes, or other mammals for rabies control. This strategy helps to immunize wild animal populations, reducing the risk of rabies transmission to humans and domestic animals. 

Can You Sue If You Get Rabies From a Dog Bite in Texas?

San Antonio Dog Bite Lawyers

If you contract rabies from a dog bite, you may have the option to sue for damages, depending on the circumstances of the incident. In such cases, legal action revolves around proving negligence by the dog’s owner or handler. 

For a successful lawsuit, your San Antonio dog bite attorney will prove that the owner knew, or reasonably should have known, that their dog posed a risk and failed to take appropriate measures to prevent the bite. If local laws mandate rabies vaccinations for pets, and the owner didn’t do their part to prevent rabies, this can further support the case. 

Compensation for Dog Bites in Texas

The dog bite attorneys from Janicek Law will work to recover the following damages for your bite injury:

  • Medical expenses 
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Permanent scarring and disfigurement
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Call San Antonio Dog Bite Attorneys at Janicek Law Today

You can pursue legal action against the dog’s owner or handler if you or a loved one suffered dog bite injuries. To learn more about your legal options, call Janicek Law at (210) 366-4949 to schedule a consultation with a San Antonio personal injury attorney today. 


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