2009 animal rabies statistics have recently been published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Blanton et al 2010). Here are some highlights:
- 6690 rabid animals were identified, along with four human cases. (One of those human cases was associated with travel to India, as described as described in a recent post).
- Rabid animals were identified in 49 states and Puerto Rico.
- 92% of infected animals were wildlife. Raccoons were the winners (actually, the losers, I guess) with 2327 cases, followed by 1625 bats, 1602 skunks, 504 foxes, 300 cats, 81 dogs and 74 cattle.
It is important to remember that these are rabies diagnoses, not all rabies cases. Certainly, more animals died of rabies and were not tested. These numbers may represent the "tip of the iceberg," particularly for some wildlife species. This can impact on the accuracy of the relative numbers between species, and year-to-year changes in cases, but doesn’t change the fact that rabies is present, widespread, relatively common and can infect a wide range of animal species, including pets. It also highlights why vaccination of pets is still important.