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Rabies can result from a dog bite

A dog bite can happen at any time. Along with the dog bite injury, the incident usually also carries the possibility of contracting rabies disease.

The rabies virus is typically transmitted in the saliva of an infected animal. Close contact with the infected animal, especially in the case of a bite or another instance where the skin victim's skin is broken, can lead to the development of the disease. Rabies attacks brain tissue and commonly results in the death of the infected individual. A vaccine is available that can prevent the onset of the disease if it is administered in time.

About 5 million people across the country experience some kind of animal bite every year, of which about 80 percent are inflicted by the estimated 60 million dogs living in the United States. Ten percent of these bites demand outpatient medical attention, while around 4 percent need to be admitted to a hospital. Out of this group, around 20 persons die as the result of the bite.

The majority of bite-related fatalities occur in children between the ages of 5 and 9 years of age with many victims being acquainted with the animal that bit them. Many of the accidents occur on the property of the animal's owner. Cats are also responsible for a number of bite injures and because of their fang-like teeth, deep wound infections often result.

Animal bites are inflicted by animals other than cats and dogs and include mice, squirrels, ferrets, raccoons and sometimes, even pigs.

If you or a loved one are the victim of a dog bite, you should report the incident to law enforcement or to animal control officers who will ask for the location of the animal, whether or not the attack was provoked and for a domestic animal, whether the animal was vaccinated for rabies.

Source: Seguin Gazette, "Animal bites and rabies in the dog days of summer," Dr. Robert Pape, Aug. 31, 2011

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