Is Rabies in Your State?

Each year, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collect information about cases of animal and human rabies from the state health departments and publish the information in a summary report. The most recent report entitled “Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2015external icon,” contains the epidemiologic information on rabies during 2015. Here are the showing the distribution of rabies in the United States.

During 2015, 50 states and Puerto Rico reported 5,508 cases of rabies in animals and 3 human rabies cases to CDC. The total number of reported cases decreased by 8.7 percent compared with 2014 (6,033 rabid animals and 1 human case of rabies).

Two men in an office looking at a computer screen
Wild Animal Surveillance

Wild animals accounted for 92.4 percent of reported cases of rabies in 2015. Bats were the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species (30.9 percent of all animal cases during 2015), followed by raccoons (29.4 percent), skunks (24.8 percent), and foxes (5.9 percent).

Domestic Animal Surveillance

Domestic species accounted for 7.6 percent of all rabid animals reported in the United States in 2015. The number of reported rabid dogs (67) increased in 2015 compared to 2014 (59), and the number of reported rabid cats decreased from 272 in 2014 to 244 in 2015. The number of rabid cattle in 2015 (85) increased compared to 2014 (78), while the number of rabid horses and mules decreased from 25 in 2014 to 14 in 2015.

Human rabies surveillance

In this century, the number of human deaths in the United States attributed to rabies has declined from 100 or more each year to an average of 2 or 3 each year. Two programs have been responsible for this decline. First, animal control and vaccination programs begun in the 1940’s and oral rabies vaccination programs in the 2000’s have eliminated domestic dogs as reservoirs of rabies in the United States. Second, effective human rabies vaccines and immunoglobulins have been developed.