What to Do if You’re Bitten by a Dog in China

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So, in my last post I told the story about how I was surrounded by an angry pack of dogs and ultimately bitten twice by a German Shepherd. If you haven’t read about that experience yet, be sure to click here.

After I was bitten by the dog – and the initial shock of the situation – we found our way to a friend’s house and told them about what happened. The dog hadn’t done terrible damage to my leg. However, he did break the skin and my pant leg in the area around my knee and hip.

This, of course, meant that I would have to get the dreaded rabies shot. If an animal breaks the skin when biting you, his saliva, which may contain the rabies virus, also gets in your blood stream. Basically, if he’s got rabies – so, now, do you.

Now, my whole life, all I ever heard about the rabies shot is that you don’t want it. According to my mother, or at least my recollection of what my mother said, the needle was 2 inches in diameter and as long as my arm and would be administered through the stomach. So, according to her, playing with squirrels was not worth the risk of being punctured by a huge, painful needle full of the rabies vaccine.

So, I was a little hesitant about going to a hospital to potentially save my life from a quick-killing, mind-altering disease. It’s possible the dog had been vaccinated against rabies and had papers to prove it. But does that mean the dog is in the clear forever? We weren’t 100% sure at that point what the proper thing to do.

Eventually, my wife and friends talked me in to going and talking to the owner to see about the dog’s papers.

The owner ended up being a nice guy who was upset to hear his dog had bitten me. His suspicious look that I had mentioned in the previous post wasn’t a malicious look. He was just concerned his dog had bitten me. He searched around for the dog’s registration papers showing the dog had the rabies vaccines. But he wasn’t able to find it; anyway, like I said, we weren’t really confident that it mattered that he had papers or not.

So, he insisted that he take me down to the center for disease control to start taking the rabies vaccine. I was still trying to rationalize my way out of the whole rabies shot thing, but flashes of Old Yeller kept coming up in my head. So, I agreed to go with the gentleman.

We contacted our Chinese teacher who agreed to help us translate and headed downtown.

In my case, the rabies vaccine needed to be administered 6 times over an ever-expanding period of time. I would be receiving my first shot then and there.

I braced myself to be pierced by a large needle so long it would probably touch my spine.

Turns out they don’t do that any more…

In fact they haven’t done that for years. Now it’s a regular ‘ole shot in the arm.

My relief was evident by the smile across my face. I’m sure doctors don’t usually see smiles on the faces of people they’re giving a shot to, but faced with the alternative, barbaric things they did I the past, I couldn’t contain it. In the back of my mind, I noted that I need to update my mother on the procedure so she could stop scaring little kids.

After the shot, they packed up the remaining vials of the vaccine, handed them to me and said, “keep it cool”.

“Huh? You want me to keep this?”, I said. “You can’t just keep it here and I’ll come back for the shots?”

“No, you can just take it to a local hospital closer to where you live and they can administer it.”, the doctor said.

“Ok…so, the local doctor will just give me the shot, no questions asked?”, I replied.

“Yes, just go to a local clinic.”, said the kind doctor.

“Ok…I have no idea where to go, but…sure, I’ll do that.”

If you have any experience with Chinese hospitals, you know that keeping track of your own patient history is standard procedure. But keeping track of my own medicine was new to me. I was surprised that they would trust me with such expensive and vital medicine. What if I drop it? What if I don’t refrigerate it? What if I accidentally freeze it? What if my kid drinks it? What if I forget? I could still end up with rabies!

Mostly, I just couldn’t believe a doctor would accept this medicine and my explanation that I was supposed to receive the remaining vaccinations.

Turns out they do.

Just a short walk from my house I found a little, bitty clinic. I’m not even sure what they do there, but apparently they administer shots from random people off the street, because I walked in and handed the vials of medicine to the doctor and said, “Can you give me this shot?” The doctor read the vaccine instructions and said, “Sure, no problem.”

Wow! That was easy…and kinda scary.

I returned several more times to finish up the treatment and I was safe from rabies for the time being.

Job done!

The dog, meanwhile, didn’t come down with any symptoms. So, it was all for naught…except that now I can share my experience with you!

As for me, I no longer have a cordial relationship with dogs. They’re all suspect to me. I know they’re all plotting another attempt to take over the world. I’ve seen 101 Dalmatians. I know they can communicate over long distances. No matter where I am in the world, they seem to recognize me. No doubt they’ve heard about the failed “Dog Revolt of Beijing” and suspect me as the guy.

And I wouldn’t put it past them to be able to attack on a 40 degree roof, either.

If you landed on this blog post because you’ve been bitten by a dog and wondering what you should do, then check out these articles:
What do Do if You’re Bitten by a Dog
Questions and Answers about Rabies

Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

Founders of havingababyinchina.com, Jeremy and Jacquelyn have four children. The first three were born in three different hospitals in China and the last was born at home in the US. Jeremy and Jacquelyn created havingababyinchina.com in 2009 after they found little information for foreigners having babies in China. They love connecting with other foreigners having babies. Learn more about them on the about page.


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