Human Rabies

Cases of human rabies cases in the United States are rare, with only 1 to 3 cases reported annually. Twenty-five cases of human rabies have been reported in the United States in the past decade (2009-2018). Seven of these infections were acquired outside of the U.S. and its territories.

The number of human rabies deaths in the United States has been steadily declining since the 1970’s thanks to animal control and vaccination programs, successful outreach programs, public health capacity and laboratory diagnostics, and the availability of modern rabies biologics. Yet each year, hundreds of thousands of animals need to be placed under observation or be tested for rabies, and between 30,000 to 60,000 people need to receive rabies postexposure prophylaxis.

Cases of Rabies in Humans in the United States and Puerto Rico from January 2009 Through December 2019 by Circumstances of Exposure and Rabies Virus Variant
Date of onset Date of death Reporting state Age (y) Sex Exposure* Rabies virus variant†
16-Oct-18 4-Nov-18 UT 55 M Contact Bat, Tb
15-Jul-18 23-Aug-18 DE 69 F Unknown Raccoon, eastern United States
28-Dec-17 14-Jan-18 FL 6 M Bite Bat, Tb
6-Oct-17 21-Oct-17 FL 56 F Bite Bat, Tb
5-May-17 21-May-17 VA 65 F Bite Dog, India
25-Nov-15 1-Dec-15 PR 54 M Bite Dog-mongoose, Caribbean
17-Sep-15 3-Oct-15 WY 77 F Contact Bat, Ln
30-Jul-15 24-Aug-15 MA 65 M Bite, Philippines Dog, Philippines
12-Sep-14 26-Sep-14 MO 52 M Unknown Bat, Ps
16-May-13 11-Jun-13 TX 28 M Unknown, Guatemala Dog, Guatemala
31-Jan-13 27-Feb-13 MD 49 M Kidney transplant Raccoon, eastern United States
6-Jul-12 31-Jul-12 CA 34 M Bite Bat,Tb
22-Dec-11 23-Jan-12 MA 63 M Contact Bat, My sp
3-Dec-11 19-Dec-11 SC 46 F Unknown Bat,Tb
1-Sep-11 14-Oct-11 MA 40 M Contact, Brazil Dog, Brazil
21-Aug-11 1-Sep-11 NC 20 M Unknown (organ donor)§ Raccoon, eastern United States
14-Aug-11 31-Aug-11 NY 25 M Contact, Afghanistan Dog, Afghanistan
30-Jun-11 20-Jul-11 NJ 73 F Bite, Haiti Dog, Haiti
30-Apr-11 Survived CA 8 F Unknown Unknown
24-Dec-10 10-Jan-11 WI 70 M Unknown Bat, Ps
2-Aug-10 21-Aug-10 LA 19 M Bite, Mexico Bat, Dr
23-Oct-09 20-Nov-09 VA 42 M Contact, India Dog, India
20-Oct-09 11-Nov-09 MI 55 M Contact Bat, Ln
5-Oct-09 20-Oct-09 IN 43 M Unknown Bat, Ps
25-Feb-09 Survived TX 17 F Contact Bat, unknown

*Data for exposure history including exposure type and country if outside of the United States are reported 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 without a known bite (e.g., waking up to find a bat on exposed skin), or unknown (i.e., no information about a bite or contact with an animal was elicited during case investigation).

Rabies virus variants associated with terrestrial animals in the United States and Puerto Rico are identified with the names of the reservoir animal (raccoon, skunk, fox, bat, mongoose), followed by the name of the most definitive geographic entity (usually the country) from which the variant has been identified. Rabies virus variants associated with bats are identified with a notation for the names of the species of bats in which they have been found to be circulating.

Dr = Desmodus rotundus. Ln = Lasionycteris noctivagans. My sp = Myotis species. Ps = Perimyotis subflavus.Tb = Tadarida brasiliensis

Infection was not identified until 2013, when an organ recipient developed rabies.

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 deduced using the best available evidence.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports: Case Histories of Most Recent Cases

Annual Surveillance Reports in the United States