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When do you need a rabies vaccine?

It is not common for people in Connecticut to contract rabies; in fact, it is very rare for human beings in the United States become infected with it at all. However, if there is a chance of exposure to rabies, you need to take the threat very seriously because, according to the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania, the disease is invariably fatal. The vaccine protects you from contracting the disease in the event of potential exposure. However, not every animal bite carries a risk of exposure, so in some cases, the vaccine is not necessary. 

Rabies appears to affect only mammals. There is no documented case of rabies ever occurring in fish, amphibians or reptiles. Furthermore, some types of mammals are more likely to carry the disease than others. Among wild animals, rabies rarely, if ever, occurs in chipmunks, mice, rabbits, rats or squirrels, but bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks all may be carriers. Cats, dogs and other companion animals are also at risk of developing the disease if they have not received the vaccine. 

If you receive a bite from a pet dog or cat with a documented rabies vaccination history, you do not need the rabies vaccine. If you receive a bite from an animal that is well known in the area, you can observe the animal for a period of 10 days to see if the animal develops any rabid symptoms. If not, you do not need to receive the vaccine. However, if the animal is unknown or not observable, you should receive the rabies vaccine as a precaution. If there is any question about whether or not the animal that bit you could be rabid, doctors typically prefer to err on the side of caution and administer the vaccine. 

The rabies vaccine is different from others in that people usually do not receive it as a preventative measure but only after receiving an animal bite. It is only given before exposure to people who have a greater risk of coming in contact with an infected animal. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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