Dog bites are a growing problem in Illinois and throughout the U.S., particularly in cities. In Chicago, for instance, the population is high, there is little space available for abandoned animals, and thus the rate of fear biting goes up significantly. The most common complication from a dog bite is rabies.
Rabies is a virus that affects humans and other warm-blooded animals, and it can spread through both blood and saliva. Almost all modern cases of rabies in humans occur due to a bite from an animal. In areas like Chicago, dogs are the most common cause, but cases can also result from cats and ferrets.
Once the rabies virus affects a person, there is an incubation period. That period can be as short as two days or as long as three months. During this period, the virus works itself along peripheral nerves until it reaches the central nervous system (CNS) and then brain. Symptoms start when the virus reaches the CNS, and that the point, the disease is fatal more than 99 percent of the time.
Rabies from dog bites is treatable, but as a general rule, the treatment must occur before the person begins to demonstrate symptoms. Such after-the-fact treatment is called PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
The first step is to wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water, and the second is to receive a series of injections over a two-week period. The series includes four parts rabies vaccine and one part human rabies immunoglobulin. When this treatment is applied prior to the virus reaching the CNS, it is effective 100 percent of the time, without fail. It is for this reason that modern medicine recommends getting a rabies shot whenever there is even the slightest possibility that infection may occur.
Likelihood of Infection
In the U.S., there are usually only a couple of human rabies cases per year, and that is in large part due to awareness of the virus and medicine’s ability to contend with it. Such statistics should not, however, provide anyone with false confidence. Consider that in a country like India, there are more than 20,000 deaths from rabies each year. In the U.S., and many other countries, rabies has all been eliminated in domestic animals. Nevertheless, it still occurs due to home breeding or because of general negligence, and there is a very high likelihood of getting rabies from dog bites when the animals are infected.
The important aspect of rabies prevention is vaccinations for dogs. If in Chicago all dogs were vaccinated, then rabies would be all but eliminated and the number of treatments needed near zero. Most Illinois counties have ordinances in place that require people to register animals and get them rabies vaccinations. It is your civic duty to comply.
Family dogs are not the major issue with prevention, however. Most cases of rabies from dog bites occur due to abandoned and resident dogs. Resident dogs are dogs that are owned but basically left on their own. That type of dog can be particularly dangerous because it may give the perception of being safe but is in fact very dangerous.
Due to home breeding and the like, the need for rabies treatments is actually on the rise in Chicago and other Illinois cities. Fortunately, state law requires a dog owner to pay for all medical costs and damages related to a dog attack or bite regardless of whether it actually resulted in rabies or not. If someone in your family has been bitten by a dog in Illinois, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is committed to ensuring that your legal rights are protected.