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I'm in somewhat of a state of panic and hoping for some reassurances. I'm holidaying currently in Santiago, Chile. There's a lot of street dogs here, they're more or less accepted as part of city life. Anyway, approximately 10 days ago I was walking home along a quiet street and a smallish dog bit me on my calf, I yelled at it and swung my bag at his friend who was also growling, and kept walking and they left me alone. It was only a small dog, and I was wearing jeans, so I didn't think too much of it, I just hoped when I got home it hadn't broken the skin.
I got home a few minutes later and pulled up my jeans and couldn't find any blood or anything like that. Upon super close inspection there was 1 tiny puncture wound, but as I had been wearing jeans I figured there wasn't really any chance of me having caught anything. I told myself it's possible for a slight puncture mark to be made even without direct contact of saliva or anything like that and so I went on about my day and didn't even give it a second thought. Had I known then what I know now about rabies I certainly would have gone to a doctor.
10 days later (today) and I have been feeling slightly sick. It started about 2 days ago, just a sore throat and runny nose. I didn't think anything of it, just that I was getting a cold. However this morning I woke up and had a pretty bad headache so I decided to see if there were any nasty influenza bugs in Chile at the moment. During my research I stumbled across something talking about flu like symptoms and rabies and I remembered the dog and thought, hmmm, maybe the dog got me sick. (At this point I still had no idea the severity of rabies or the fact it's more or less untreatable after the first 48 hours)
So I spent the next hour or so reading up on rabies and suffice to say I am FREAKING out. Mainly because it seems like if I do have it that I'm pretty much screwed. Even going to a hospital now they couldn't do anything for me, and I wouldn't know where to go or how to speak Spanish with them anyway.
I'm trying to make myself feel better by reminding myself that:
-a few websites and reports say rabies is ALMOST non-existant in Chile.
-the last dog related rabies death in Chile was over 30 years ago.
-there's so many dogs here I'm sure tourists get nipped every day and probably don't rush to the emergency room.
-i'm not showing many more symptoms of the disease. basically my symptoms are runny nose, sore throat, and a head that feels like a block of cement. I am not dizzy, I haven't lost my appetite, I'm drinking a lot of water, I'm not nautious, I'm not hallucinating, etc. HOWEVER, apparently these are symptoms that appear later so I'm worried in a few days I'll start to get them (Although I have hda these cold like symptoms without change for approx 2 or 3 days now)
Having said all that, the bottom line is that I was bitten by a dog through my jeans, there was a tiny puncture mark, so perhaps some saliva did get into my system. If the dog had rabies then I guess I've got it
I had NO idea that rabies was untreatable, and I had no idea that it needed IMMEDIATE medical attention. Now I'm quite distressed that what I thought was just a cold could actually be a serious, untreatable disease that will kill me over the next week or two. HELP!?
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