With 112 cases of rabid animals in NJ from January to June, according to the state’s health officials, it appears that getting bit by an animal in the Garden State is just as likely as ever. Of those 112 instances, 13 were in Middlesex County, and the county’s Office of Health Services has recommended that anyone who has been bitten by a wild or domestic animal thoroughly wash the bite with soap and water.
Then, report the incident immediately to their local health department.
Due to technological advances in medicine, deaths due to rabies in the United States have declined from over 100 per year to only about two or three per annum, over the last century, according to the Center for Disease Control. This does not mean that rabies is not a highly dangerous disease. If left untreated, people who are unfortunate enough to contract rabies generally display a host of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
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- stiff muscles
- sore throat
- lack of energy
- itching and tingling at the spot of the bite
Unfortunately, “uncomfortable” quickly becomes disastrous. Paralysis sets in on the lower extremities and moves up to the head. An infected person will likely die from cardiac arrest or respiratory failure, shortly after the symptoms begin.
Sadly, once the signs have been noticed, it may be too late. There is no known treatment after the symptoms have appeared, according to the CDC. As soon as you come into contact with any potentially rabid animal (you don’t have to be bitten!), you must immediately wash the wound and seek medical attention. Incubation periods vary from seven days to up two years, but once it starts, it’s rare to survive rabies.
It is the strict responsibility of all pet owners to control their animals and not allow them to bite anyone. If you have been bitten by a stray or domesticated animal, you not only have the potential of contracting rabies, there myriad other injuries you can sustain.