Reading ProMed Mail (BTW – my favorite read for a quick “catch up” on diseases in the world – great fodder for your next cocktail party!) had an article on a rabies story in the US and the advice from the medical officer in county was worth sharing. “To reduce the risk of getting rabies, we recommend that people avoid wild animals acting tame and tame animals acting wild.” Catchy, easy to remember and smart!
Over the last 100 years, rabies in the US has changed dramatically. More than 90% of all animal cases reported annually to CDC now occur in wildlife; before 1960 the majority were in domestic animals. The principal rabies hosts today are wild carnivores and bats.
The number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one or two per year in the 1990’s. Modern day prophylaxis has proven nearly 100% successful. Almost all human deaths caused by rabies occur in Asia and Africa. There are an estimated 55,000 human deaths annually from rabies worldwide. In the United States, human fatalities associated with rabies occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance, usually because they were unaware of their exposure.
Rabies is a zoonotic disease, caused by the rabies virus which survives in a diverse variety of animal reservoirs, including bats, monkeys, raccoons, foxes, skunks, wolves, coyotes, dogs, mongoose, weasels, cats, cattle and other domestic farm animals, and wild carnivores.
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