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Update: Raccoon Rabies -- Mid-Atlantic States

The outbreak of wildlife rabies in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania (1), and the District of Columbia (2) continues (Table 1). Over 75% of the animals reported rabid in the mid-Atlantic area have been raccoons; other affected wildlife include: skunks, bats, foxes, and groundhogs, in decreasing order of frequency. Cases have also occurred in dogs, cats, and cattle, suggesting that "spillover" has occurred from rabid wildlife into domestic animals.

Within the affected area, the number of raccoons reported rabid has increased in recent years as follows: 1977--1, 1978--3, 1979--12, 1980--21, 1981--132, 1982--837. As of February 14, 1983, nine cases had been reported in Washington, D.C., since October 1982. Northeastern Virginia/western Maryland remains the area of greatest involvement, but the outbreak continues to radiate from its original focus on the Virginia/West Virginia border. The outbreak area has increased by approximately 25-50 miles per year. New Jersey and Delaware now appear as the most likely states into which the outbreak may spread.

No adequate control methods have been found for rabies in wildlife. Domestic-pet rabies immunization programs and public education programs have been intensified to reduce the risk of human exposure. No human rabies has been associated with this outbreak. Reported by EJ Witte, VMD, CW Hays, MD, State Epidemiologist, Pennsylvania State Dept of Health; GB Miller Jr, MD, State Epidemiologist, Virginia State Dept of Health; LE Haddy, MS, Acting State Epidemiologist, West Virginia State Dept of Health; ME Levy, MD, State Epidemiologist, District of Columbia Dept of Human Svcs; E Israel MD, State Epidemiologist, Maryland State Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene; Div of Viral Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.


  1. CDC. Rabies--United States, 1981. MMWR 1982;31:379-80.

  2. CDC. Rabies--mid-Atlantic states. MMWR 1982;31:592-3.

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