Worried About Rabies After A Dog Bite?

If you heard about the discovery of rabies-carrying bats in Lakeland this week, your first thought was probably the depiction of rabies in one of your favorite childhood stories, like Old Yeller or To Kill A Mockingbird. In classics like these, rabid dogs have foaming mouths, lopsided movements, and generally aggressive behavior. These depictions are certainly true, but it’s also important to note that rabies has more subtle symptoms, too — and that it affects humans and a wide variety of domestic and wild creatures, not just dogs.

An Overview of Rabies

Rabies is a viral, but preventable disease. The virus gets transmitted by saliva, hence the association with animal bites. The virus affects the nervous system, and without treatment, leads to brain inflammation and death. In humans, symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Insomnia
  • Partial paralysis

In humans, the early symptoms of rabies are usually flu-like. However, without immediate treatment, the virus can progress to include delirium, hallucinations, and abnormal behavior. Without treatment, rabies is nearly always fatal in humans. Luckily, if someone receives immediate treatment, rabies shots prevent the virus from spreading.

Rabies in Animals

When an animal contracts rabies, they are not usually so lucky. The virus affects all mammals, ranging from dogs to raccoons. Wild animals are more likely to be carriers. But it also spreads through contact with domestic animals, like a dog that chases squirrels in the backyard. In animals, confusion, excessive salivation, and paralysis are also common symptoms, just like for humans. Animals may also exhibit hydrophobia, or a fear of water.

When a domestic animal bites a human or other animal, it is held in quarantine for at least ten days. If an animal begins showing signs of rabies while in quarantine, it is usually euthanized. Wild animals will be immediately euthanized if they are captured.

While the idea of rabid bats is scary, there have been no cases in humans in Florida so far in 2017. However, it’s important to stay aware. To prevent rabies, stay away from any wild animals, and report any stray animals, especially if they seem out of place, like a nocturnal raccoon wandering around in broad daylight. Have your pets vaccinated, and try to keep them from coming into contact with wild animals.

Liability For Dog Bites

If you or your pet does come into contact with a rabid dog, know your legal rights. If you or your pet is bitten by a non-vaccinated dog, you might be able to pursue a claim for compensation, because the dog’s owner was negligent in not vaccinating their dog. They may be also considered negligent for not warning people about the present danger of their dog, or not seeking treatment for their dog, even when they knew about the risk of rabies and the danger it presented to other people and animals. If you are bitten by a dog, even if it does not exhibit rabies symptoms, the animal should still be monitored for symptoms. Even without the possibility of rabies, dog bites are painful and scary, and after seeking medical care, you should always know your legal rights.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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