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What animals are most likely to have rabies?

You know there are plenty of risks associated with a dog bite, from bleeding to scarring to infection. You also know that any mammal can contract rabies, though, which poses an entirely different risk in the wake of a bite.

What you're wondering, then, is when that risk is high. Which animals pose the greatest danger and are most likely to have the disease? If you get bitten by one of them, should you get a rabies test immediately?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when looking at domesticated animals, most reports link back to cattle, cats, and dogs. If you're looking at wild animals, you should be most wary of foxes, bats, coyotes, skunks and raccoons.

This is part of the reason that it's dangerous for people to "adopt" wild animals as pets. If one of these animals contracts rabies, it could pass it through a bite to another pet, like the family dog, or a person who gets too close.

If you have been bitten, doctors will consider post-exposure prophylaxis to treat rabies. That doesn't mean it's needed in all cases. The biggest issue is when they can't find the animal that bit you. If they can, they'll typically observe it and determine whether or not it has rabies.

If it does not, while you still need medical care for the wound, you may not need that rabies test or the follow-up treatment. If they can't find the animal, you can have the test done to see what additional treatment options are necessary.

After a bite, when facing medical bills and related costs, make sure you know what legal options you have to seek financial compensation.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "What kind of animal did you come in contact with?," accessed Aug. 30, 2017

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