2007, 49 states and Puerto Rico reported 7,258 cases of rabies in animals
and 1 case in a human to the CDC, representing a 4.6% increase from the
6,940 cases in animals and 3 cases in humans reported in 2006. Approximately
93% of the cases were in wildlife, and 7% were in domestic animals. Relative
contributions by the major animal groups were as follows: 2,659 raccoons
(36.6%), 1,973 bats (27.2%), 1,478 skunks (20.4%), 489 foxes (6.7%), 274
cats (3.8%), 93 dogs (1.3%), and 57 cattle (0.8%). The United States remains
free of dog-to-dog transmission of canine rabies virus variants. The total
number of cases of rabies reported nationally in foxes increased 14.5%,
compared with 2006. Increases in the number of reported rabid foxes were
attributable to greater numbers of foxes reported with the Arctic fox rabies
virus variant in Alaska, the Texas gray fox rabies virus variant in Texas,
and the raccoon rabies virus variant in Virginia. The 1,973 cases of rabies
reported in bats represented a 16.6% increase over numbers reported in 2006.
One human rabies case was reported from Minnesota during 2007. Although
typing of the rabies virus variant in this case was not possible, an
investigation of this case indicated a bat as the most likely source of
The spatial boundaries of enzootic
rabies in reservoir species are temporally dynamic . Affected areas may
expand and contract through virus transmission and population interactions.
The rabies virus can be tested to see if it is skunk, fox, bat or other type
rabies virus. A bat virus can be found in a dog because the dog is bit by
it or the dog eats the bat.
Rabies control programs, including
extensive vaccination campaigns implemented during the 1940s and 1950s,
resulted in a substantial decline of rabies in domestic animals in the
United States and eliminated the circulation of the major canine variants of
the rabies virus in dogs by the late 1960s. During the late 1980s, a canine
rabies virus variant reemerged in south Texas. This virus had been
maintained historically in coyotes and transmitted to unvaccinated dogs.
Oral rabies vaccination programs were initiated to interrupt transmission of
this rabies virus variant. Vaccine in food was distributed by land and
dropped from the air in areas of rabies. No cases of animals infected with
this rabies virus variant have been reported since 2004. After more than 10
years of oral vaccination, this variant has now been eliminated from the
United States. Rabies cases associated with a second rabies virus variant
found mainly in gray foxes in west and central Texas have similarly been
reduced. Regulations in place in Texas and other states prohibiting the
translocation of certain wild animal species for hunting and restocking
purposes may have reduced the likelihood of accidental introduction of
rabies virus variants into unaffected areas.
Raccoons have been recognized as a major
reservoir for rabies in the southeastern United States since the 1950s. An
outbreak that began during the late 1970s in the mid-Atlantic states was
attributed to the translocation by humans of infected raccoons from the
Southeast. Although identifiable as separate foci prior to 1994, the
mid-Atlantic and southeastern fronts merged in North Carolina in 1995.
Raccoon rabies is now enzootic in all of the eastern coastal states as well
as in Alabama, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia.
Distribution of an oral V-RG recombinant vaccine targeting raccoons in the
eastern United States and gray foxes and coyotes in Texas has shown promise
as an important adjunct to traditional rabies control methods.
Rabies in bats accounted for 27.2% of all
cases of rabies in animals reported in 2007. The 1,973 cases reported in
2007 represented an increase of 16.6% over those reported in 2006. Bats
tested show that in 2007 6.6% had rabies. Rabies in bats is widely
distributed throughout the United States, with cases reported from all 48
contiguous states. Six states reported > 100 cases of rabies in bats: Texas
(482; 24.4%), Michigan, California, Arizona, Illinois, and New York. Seven
states (Idaho, Illinois, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington)
reported rabies in bats but not in terrestrial mammals.
The 1,478 reported cases of rabies in
skunks in 2007. Percentage of skunks that tested positive were 26% positive
in 2007. Ten states there where endemic rabies in skunks including Kansas,
Wyoming, Arkansas, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Foxes accounted for 6.7% of all cases of
rabies in animals reported in 2007. The percentage of test-positive foxes
submitted for testing during 2007 were 28.7%. Most cases of rabies in foxes
(76%) were reported by states affected predominantly by the raccoon rabies
virus variant. Sixteen states reported increases in the number of rabid
foxes, compared with 2006:
in Domestic Animals
Domestic species accounted for 6.6% of all rabid animals
reported in the United States in 2007. With good vaccination programs in
domestic animals, there has been a shift of rabies from domestic to wild
The number of domestic animals reported rabid in 2007 (482)
represented an 11.9% decrease from the total reported in 2006. Reported
cases of rabies in cats, cattle, and horses decreased 13.8%, 30.5%, and
20.8%, respectively. Reported cases of rabies in dogs increased 17.7%,
compared to 2006. Virginia reported the largest number of rabid domestic
animals (50 cases), followed by Texas (41), Pennsylvania (38), North
Carolina (36), and Georgia (31).
Most (221) of the 274 cases of rabies in cats were reported
from states in which the raccoon rabies virus variant is present
reported principally by Central Plains states, where most cases were
presumably the result of spillover from rabid skunks. Ten states reported >
10 cases of rabies in cats: Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina,
Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, Texas, and Kansas.
Texas (12 cases), Georgia (10), and North Dakota (7) reported
the largest numbers of cases of rabies in dogs by individual states. No
other states reported > 5 cases of rabies in dogs in 2007. No cases were
reported involving the dog/coyote rabies virus variant. Twenty-four states,
the District of Columbia, and New York City did not report any rabid dogs.
84 cases, 58%, were typed for which virus variant. One dog in Ward County,
Tex, was determined to be infected with a rabies virus from the Mexican
free-tailed bats, and 1 dog in Suwanee County, Fla, was infected with the
rabies virus variant associated with red bats. The rabies virus variants
isolated from all other positive dogs typed in 2007 were identified as the
terrestrial rabies virus variant associated with the geographic area where
the dog was collected .
above was summarized from a CDC article from
A couple of points:
More than 55,000 people, mostly in Africa and Asia, die from rabies every
year - a rate of one person every ten minutes.
in humans is rare in the United States (only one case in 2007), as many as
18,000 Americans get rabies shots each year because they have been in
contact with animals that may be rabid.
For many types of bite
wounds, immediate gentle irrigation with soap and water or a dilute water
povidone-iodine solution (Betadine) has been shown to markedly decrease the
risk of bacterial infection and rabies.
You cannot feel the bite
of bats so if there is a bat found in the house, everyone should get
vaccinated. If the bat can be safely caught, then have the bat tested
Bites from cats or dogs from families (not strays) you can observe the
animal for 10 days before getting shots.
The vaccine is not 21
shots in the stomach any more. It is 4 shots in the arm and as painful as
flu shots. The emergency room and county health clinics are the places that
carry vaccine. The average doctor does not have it in his office.
CDC pamphlet on the rabies vaccine
For bite care and vaccine information:
Video of child dieing of rabies. Caution, this is not