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Animal bites and rabies in the modern world

When talking about animal bites, one would be remiss in not touching on rabies. Even in the modern world, this terrible illness can wreak havoc on animals and humans alike. Many people living in Arizona believe that rabies is a thing of the past, but this condition can still pose a serious health risk to the public.

If you do not know, rabies occurs because of a virus that attacks the body's central nervous system. It can be transmitted to humans when they suffer a bite or a scratch from an infected animal. The amount of rabies cases occurring in the United States is low thanks to modern vaccines, but it is crucial to seek help immediately if you believe you have been exposed to the condition through an animal bite. Failure to seek treatment in time can result in death.

Most people associate rabies with animal bites inflicted by wild creatures such as bats, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, foxes and many others. However, data shows that most cases of rabies occur from dog bites. It is safe to assume that at least a portion of dog bites leading to rabies occur through domesticated dogs suffering from the virus.

Other domesticated animals that can transmit rabies include cats, horses, ferrets and rabbits. In other words, any infected animal bite could cause rabies in humans. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 59,000 rabies-related deaths occur annually, 99 percent of them caused by bites from infected dogs.

The treatment for rabies exposure is long and costly, involving initial medical care as well as a series of vaccine injections given over a 14-day period. In many cases, victims can offset these costs by taking legal action against the person who owns the animal.

Source: Healthline, "Understanding Rabies," Shannon Johnson, accessed Aug. 15, 2017

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