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The Price Tag for Dog Attacks

Updated: Tuesday, May 20 2014, 10:03 AM CDT

From a little nip to a big bite, there are dangers you need to be aware of-- and that's why, during National Dog Bite Prevention Week, we take a closer look at just how much these bites are costing.

While only 309 people filed claimes with State Farm for dog bites last year in Illinois, it cost almost $9 million to cover. And that's just from one insurance provider.

They're cute and cuddly, but sometimes they can bite back.

"In Champaign county, there are about 15 or 20 dog bites in a year typically. Rabies is one of the concerns when somebody is bit by a dog."

In Illinois, 309 people filed claims with State Farm to cover their bills for a dog bite and that came out to almost $9 million total.

So why is it so high?

Experts say it's paranoia over getting rabies.

"When the patient is demanding, the physician has to give into the demands, and give the vaccination."

And that treatment is not cheap.

"Anywhere between 15 or $25,000 for one series."

And that's just for the vaccination.

"In addition to the cost of going to the emergency room and their facility charges, it becomes very expensive."

Illinois ranks number 2 in the country for State Farm dog bite claims.

California being number 1 and Ohio being number 3.

We spoke with a State Farm agent in Champaign County who says that there are many factors as to why Illinois ranked so high.

"Just being a bigger state and maybe, Midwest has more dogs. I think it's kind of a natural Midwest thing. Family dogs and things like that. And what we find is that most claims do come from family dogs."

Experts say if you're bit by a dog, the best thing to do is to wash it out with soap and water and go to the emergency room. Then let doctors decide if you need a vaccination for rabies.

"They will not start with rabies vaccination till they have contacted public health to see if the person needs a vaccination or not."

Champaign-Urbana public health officials tell us the've never seen a case of someone being infected with rabies from a dog bite in the past 20 years.

If you would like to know more about rabies, you can attend a free seminar about patient-based communicable diseases this Tuesday night from 6-8pm at Carle Hospital.

The Price Tag for Dog Attacks

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