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Rabies awareness campaign aims to educate about the deadly virus

People who live in California may have less risk of contacting rabies than those in some other parts of the world, but rabies is a possibility for anyone who comes in contact with animals. Since 2007, Sept. 28th has been designated as World Rabies Day to raise awareness about this deadly disease.

The rabies virus affects mammals. Humans can contract rabies by being bitten by a rabid dog or in other ways. In 2013, a man died of rabies after receiving an organ transplant. The donor was a man who spent much time outdoors but was never tested for rabies. Veterinarians are trained to suspect possible rabies in animals or people who have not been vaccinated and have central nervous system symptoms. Rabies has a 100 percent fatality rate, but the disease is preventable with prompt and proper medical treatment.

The main cause of human rabies worldwide is dog bites. Most states have statutes requiring the vaccination of pet dogs and cats. The problem of human rabies is greater in developing nations and impoverished countries where access to vaccines and medical care is limited. In the United States, pet vaccinations have caused the incidents of canine rabies to drop, but stray animals and wildlife still pose a threat to humans.

Dog and other animal bites can result in the need for medical attention and associated costs. A person who is bitten by a dog that is owned by another person may want to discuss with an attorney the advisability of seeking compensation from the owner for the damages that have been sustained. In most cases, a California dog owner is strictly liable for such injuries.

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