Ok, you are out in the 'wild' often, and you may or may not have had an interaction with a rabid animal. While I realize there is a pretty solid chance that you know if you have been around, say, a raccoon or a fox, or even a bat, you should have been aware that an altercation had occurred.

Granted, if it were me, I probably would have been on the fence as to whether or not I tell my family about it, or if I just tried to hide it, so they wouldn't yell at me. So, you essentially thought that whatever occurred was 'no big deal,' when do you start to get worried and decide to seek medical attention?

What are the signs that you might have been infected with rabies?

Photo by Bryan Padron on Unsplash
Photo by Bryan Padron on Unsplash

First and foremost, take this seriously. New York has one of the highest numbers of reported rabies cases per year. So, what does rabies feel like? What is the earliest warning sign? According to the Center for Disease Control, CDC, the first potential symptom one might have is the general feeling of flu.

What other than flu-type symptoms might you have if you have been exposed to rabies?

Looking down at a young raccoon stuck in a garbage container

In addition to the flu symptoms, you might feel itchy in the bite spot, discomfort, and prickling. While these are the mildest symptoms, and they could be as drastic and increase to cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and agitation. As the disease progresses, the person may experience delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), and insomnia.

When might these symptoms appear after your rabies exposure?

Red fox portrait in the winter
Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you have been bitten by an animal, get medical attention regardless. The symptoms can develop over a period of 2-10 days. It is better safe than sorry, to get yourself checked out. Each animal can have a different version of symptoms and strain of rabies. Will the protocol has changed over the last few decades as to how to treat a patient with a potential exposure, it is still important to get yourself checked out.

Have you ever had to go through a round of rabies treatment? What was that like?

While the animals that might infect you could look harmless, here are a few that it is actually illegal to own in New York State: 

10 Animals That Are Illegal To Keep As Pets In Connecticut And New York

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