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 2017”external icon contains the epidemiologic information on rabies during 2017.
During 2017, 49 states and Puerto Rico reported 4,454 cases of rabies in animals and 2 human rabies cases to CDC. The total number of reported cases decreased by 9.3 percent compared with 2016 (4,910 rabid animals and 0 human cases of rabies).
Wild animals accounted for 91 percent of reported cases of rabies in 2017. Bats were the most frequently reported rabid wildlife species (32.2 percent of all animal cases during 2017), followed by raccoons (28.6 percent), skunks (21.1 percent), and foxes (7.0 percent).
Domestic species accounted for 9 percent of all rabid animals reported in the United States in 2017. The number of reported rabid dogs (62) increased slightly in 2017 compared to 2016 (58), and the number of reported rabid cats increased from 257 in 2016 to 276 in 2017. The number of rabid cattle in 2017 (36) decreased compared to 2016 (70), while the number of rabid horses and mules decreased from 23 in 2016 to 13 in 2017.
In the last 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 and limited the reach of wildlife reservoirs. Second, effective human rabies vaccines and immunoglobulins have been developed.