Rabies is a deadly virus spread by infected animals, usually from a bite. Unfortunately, by the time a human shows signs of rabies, the disease has progressed and will nearly always be fatal.

However, immune globulin shots can treat rabies, although the medicine is very expensive and may not be covered by your insurance.

The better news is that putting the animal in quarantine may eliminate the need for the bite victim to receive expensive and uncomfortable shots.

If you are bitten by a domestic animal (dog, cat, ferret, or horse), immediately wash the wound and contact your doctor. Your doctor will contact the health department. The shots can be deferred for several days, so stay calm.

The animal will be quarantined for 10 days; you only need the shots if it dies within 10 days. Quarantining may be more difficult for a wild animal that ran or flew off. For wild animals, the animal brain can be tested. The bite victim only needs shots if the results show the animal was rabid.

Quarantine and animal testing is less expensive and less uncomfortable for the human. For more information on rabies, go to http://www.idph.iowa.gov/rabies or call Dallas County Environmental Health, 515-93-3750.