A recent report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association by Jesse Blanton and colleagues provided a detailed report of rabies infection in the US in 2007. Here are some of the more interesting points:
- Rabies was diagnosed in 7 258 animals and 1 person. That’s a 4.6% increase in animals from 2006, but 2 fewer human cases.
- 93% of cases were wildlife: 37% raccoons, 27% bats, 20% skunks, 7% foxes.
- 0.8% of cases were in cattle and 0.6% were in horses.
- 4% of cases were cats, with the largest numbers of feline cases in Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, Texas and Kansas. Cat cases peaked in June and July.
- 1.3% of cases were dogs, with the largest number of canine cases in Texas, Georgia and North Dakota. Dog cases did not appear to have a seasonal pattern.
- Small numbers of a variety of other species were diagnosed, including pigs, wolves, opossums, bobcats, coyotes, otters, bears, deer, mongooses (in Puerto Rico), groundhogs and beavers.
- The largest number of rabies cases occurred in Texas (969).
- The infections that occurred were due to several rabies virus variants in circulation in North America, including raccoon rabies virus, skunk rabies virus, arctic fox rabies virus, bat rabies virus and Texas gray fox rabies virus. In each region of the continent, one or more of these rabies virus variants may be more common.
- No infections with canine rabies virus were identified. Dogs and coyotes were infected by other variants of the rabies virus, but not with the dog variant. It is believed that dog-to-dog transmission of canine rabies virus no longer occurs in the US.
- The one human rabies case in 2007 occurred in Minnesota, and was probably due to exposure to a rabid bat.
More information on rabies can be found on the Worms & Germs Resources page, and in the rabies archives.