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Rabies shots still not easy

Years ago people exposed to rabies had to undergo one painful shot in the abdomen each day for 14 days. Not as many shots are needed now, but they're still painful and have unpleasant side effects.

The old shots often caused high fever, like the five days of 103- to 104-degree fever that veterinarian Clayton Dudley of Woodbury, Conn., said he suffered.

Today's side effects tend to be nausea, headaches and swelling.

The number of shots administered on the first day now depends partly on a person's weight, with one shot of rabies immune globulin usually administered for every 30-40 pounds. A 30-pound child would get one shot; a 200-pound person might need five or six.

One first-day shot is given in the arm and the rest in the buttocks or thigh. A single shot to the arm is then administered on days three, seven, 14 and 28.

The cost can be more than $1,500 and usually is covered by insurance.

For someone who hasn't been exposed to rabies but works with animals, a preventive vaccine comes in three shots _ given on days one, seven and between 21 and 28.