Rabies is a word that strikes fear in everyone. There have been 16 cases reported of rabies since February 22, 2012. Rabies is deadly but preventable and affects all species of mammals, including humans. The preventable part is key. One of the first questions Solomon Neuhardt will ask in the case of an animal bite is whether the animal has been previously vaccinated for rabies. Even with this information, the animal may still be quarantined to see if symptoms develop.The virus infects the central nervous system, causing swelling of the brain (encephalitis) and ultimately death. It cannot be cured in the animal that has the disease and therefore is always fatal to the animal. According to the Montana Dept. of Livestock: “Most rabies cases in the U.S. involve wild animals: mostly skunks, bats, raccoons, coyotes and foxes. In Montana, skunks and bats account for more than 90 percent of all reported cases.”
In animals rabies can take on two forms: dumb or furious. With the dumb form, animals become shy or hide, and are often unapproachable. They may be sluggish and act depressed or confused. With the furious form, animals are excitable, irritable and aggressive, and suddenly attack if approached. Other signs include drooling; inability to eat, drink or swallow; frothing at the mouth; and staggering, weakness, convulsions and paralysis, leading to coma prior to death. Mr. Neuhardt recommends that if you encounter an animal with these symptoms, even if you haven’t been bitten, contact a veterinarian, animal control, or the county sheriff: professionals trained to handle these cases. Solomon cautions: You need to protect yourself first.If you are bitten or scratched by an animal or saliva from the animal has come in contact with the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose or mouth, you should immediately and thoroughly wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention. Contact the county health department (or dial 9-1-1 after hours) as soon as possible.
In people, victims feel fine for up to three months before the first symptom show themselves. First you may experience general, nonspecific flu-like symptoms: malaise, fever or headache. Then, mental dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, agitation, delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, convulsions, insomnia and paralysis may manifest. Death generally occurs one to two weeks after the onset of symptoms.In light of the above, Solomon Neuhardt recommends that if you are the owner of a dog, cat, sheep, cattle, horses or ferret, you should use the effective and inexpensive vaccines available. In Montana, vaccination by an accredited veterinarian is required for dogs, cats and ferrets. By getting this simple vaccine you protect your pet and you. And you protect yourself from litigation if your pet bites or scratches another animal or a human. Proving you have up-to-date vaccination/boosters is the first line of defense.
If you are a victim of a bite, Mr. Neuhardt suggests you write down the breed, size, sex, whether it had a collar (and collar color) and any distinguishing marks of the animal. Memories fade and it is important to capture any details as soon as you can. Add information later as it occurs to you. This is information that is vital to your health and your attorney who represents you in prosecuting a negligent owner. Neuhardt Law is available to help and can aid you in getting a fair settlement to your claim.