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What is rabies, and do I need shots after dog bites?

If you've been bitten by someone's dog, then you may not feel you're at much risk as far as illness, but that may not be the case. If the dog doesn't have vaccination records, you may need to be treated for rabies. The treatment process is tedious, but it is necessary, especially if the dog is tested and found positive for the disease.

Rabies is a very serious disease. The disease itself is almost impossible to treat once the symptoms are present, so prevention and treatment when the disease is suspected is vital. In New Hampshire, cases of rabies have been documented in foxes, bats and raccoons, and one person in New Hampshire caught rabies from a dog bite.

Rabies itself spreads through the nervous system, making the body shut down. If you or someone you know is bitten by a wild or undocumented animal, then it's important to immediately wash out the wound with soap and water and to then call a doctor. If you've been bitten by a dog with tags, you may be able to avoid needing rabies treatments, but you should still follow these procedures. Vaccination records are needed or if you can, catch the animal and keep it so it can be tested for diseases. With enough precautions, you can prevent yourself from falling ill to this disease, which is potentially deadly.

If you've been bitten and want to know more about what to do next, speaking with someone familiar with New Hampshire's dog bite laws can help. Get the treatment you need, then consider discussing your case; you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries.

Source: New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, "Rabies" Dec. 24, 2014

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