Massachusetts residents who have read or seen “Old Yeller” may be aware of the heartbreaking end that dogs may meet if they contract rabies. Rabies is a virus that can be spread from animals to humans that can have violent and devastating symptoms for those who contract it. Paralysis, pain and death are all possible outcomes for individuals who contract rabies and are not treated for their infections.

After an animal bite, a victim may be worried about whether they could have been exposed to rabies. Although many domestic dogs undergo regular rabies vaccinations to limit their chances of contracting the disease, not every pet owner stays on top of this important and potentially life-saving responsibility. It is important that victims seek medical attention after they are injured to be assessed for exposure to rabies.

Since rabies is only transmitted through saliva and brain tissue, a person may not need to undergo a rabies treatment plan if their attack did not break the skin. If, however, a victim suffered a penetrating wound from a bite and it is not possible for them to verify whether the animal was current on its rabies vaccinations, then they may have to complete postexposure prophylaxis.

For rabies, PEP may include testing and a course of shots to inoculate a person against contracting rabies. These shots can be administered over the course of several weeks. Although the shots may not be necessary, anyone who has been potentially exposed to rabies may not want to endure the worry and fear and may elect to undergo PEP.

An animal attack can be a scary experience but, for some, the fear may not end when the attacking creature is stopped. The threat of rabies is a major concern for animal bite victims, and individuals who have suffered animal attacks may wish to speak with their legal representatives to discuss their claims.