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Human Rabies

Human rabies cases in the United States are rare, with only 1 to 3 cases reported annually. Thirty-four cases of human rabies have been diagnosed in the United States since 2003, in which 10 cases were found to have contracted infection outside of the United States and its territories. The number of human deaths in the United States attributed to rabies has been steadily declining since the 1970’s due to animal control and vaccination programs, modern rabies biologics following exposure, and successful outreach campaigns. Rabies vaccination programs have eliminated domestic dogs as reservoirs of rabies in the United States, although we still see 80 – 100 dogs and >300 cats with rabies each year, usually infected by wildlife when these domesticated pets are not vaccinated against rabies. While the biggest rabies threat in the world (domestic dogs) has been controlled in the United States, interactions with other rabies reservoir species results in 30,000 – 60,000 Americans being vaccinated against rabies each year.

The case histories (if published) of the ten most recent cases can be found using the links below:


Cases of Rabies in Humans in the United States and Puerto Rico, 2003 Through July 2014, by Circumstances of Exposure and Rabies Virus Variant.

Date of Onset Date of Death Reporting State Age Sex Exposure History* Rabies virus variant†
2/10/2003 3/10/2003 VA 25 M Unknown Raccoon, eastern US
5/28/2003 6/5/2003 PR 64 M Bite-Puerto Rico Dog/mongoose, Puerto Rico
8/23/2003 9/14/2003 CA 66 M Bite Bat, Ln
2/9/2004 2/15/2004 FL 41 M Bite-Haiti Dog, Haiti
4/27/2004 5/3/2004 AR 20 M Bite (organ donor) Bat, Tb
5/25/200 5/31/2004 OK 53 M Liver transplant Bat, Tb
5/29/2004 6/9/2004 TX 50 F Kidney transplant Bat, Tb
6/2/2004 6/10/2004 TX 55 F Arterial transplant Bat, Tb
5/27/2004 6/21/2004 TX 18 M Kidney transplant Bat, Tb
10/12/2004 Survived WI 15 F Bite Bat, unknown
10/19/2004 10/26/2004 CA 22 M Unknown-El Salvador Dog, El Salvador
9/27/2005 9/27/2005 MS 10 M Contact Bat, unknown
5/4/2006 5/12/2006 TX 16 M Contact Bat, Tb
9/30/2006 11/2/2006 IN 10 F Bite Bat, Ln
11/15/2006 12/14/2006 CA 11 M Bite-Philipines Dog, Philipines
9/19/2007 10/20/2007 MN 46 M Bite Bat, unknown
3/16/2008 3/18/2008 CA 16 M Bite-Mexico Fox, Tb-related
11/19/2008 11/30/2008 MO 55 M Bite Bat, Ln
2/25/2009 Survived TX 17 F Contact Bat, unknown
10/5/2009 10/20/2009 IN 43 M Unknown Bat, Ps
10/23/2009 11/20/2009 VA 42 M Contact-India Dog, India
10/20/2009 11/11/2009 MI 55 M Contact Bat, Ln
8/2/2010  8/21/2010 LA 19 M Bite-Mexico Bat, Dr
12/24/2010 1/10/2011 WI 70 M Unknown Bat, Ps
4/30/2011 Survived CA 8 F Unknown Unknown
6/30/2011 7/20/2011 NJ 73 F Bite-Haiti Dog, Haiti
8/14/2011 8/21/2011 NY 25 M Contact-Afghanistan Dog, Afghanistan
9/1/2011 8/21/2011 NC 20 M Unknown Raccoon, eastern US
9/1/2011 10/14/2011 MA 40 M Contact-Brazil Dog, Brazil
12/3/2011 12/19/2011 SC 46 F Unknown Tb
12/22/2011 1/23/2012 MA 63 M Contact My Sp
7/31/2012 7/6/2012 CA 34 M Bite Bat, Tb
5/16/2013 6/11/2013 TX 28 M Unknown- Guatemala Dog, Guatemala

*Data for exposure history are reported based on when plausible information was reported directly by the patient (if lucid or credible), or when a reliable account of an incident consistent with rabies virus exposure (e.g. dog bite) was reported by an independent witness (usually a family member). Exposure histories are categorized as: Bite, contact (e.g. awaking to find bat on exposed skin, etc), but no known bite was acknowledged, or unknown (i.e. no known contact with an animal was elicited during case investigation)

†Variants of the rabies virus associated with terrestrial animals in the United States and Puerto Rico are identified with the names of the reservoir animal (e.g. dog or raccoon), followed by the name of the most definitive geographic entity (usually the country) from which the variant has been identified. Variants of the rabies virus associated with bats are identified with the names of the species of bats in which they have been found to be circulating. Because information regarding the location of the exposure and the identity of the exposing animal is almost always retrospective and much information is frequently unavailable, the location of the exposure and the identity of the animal responsible for the infection are often limited to deduction. Dr = Desmodus rotundus, Ln = Lasionycteris noctivagans, My Sp = Myotis species, Ps = Perimyotis subflavus, Tb= Tadarida brasiliensis

Annual Surveillance Reports in the United States

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