Rabies, an invariably fatal disease, has been known and feared since antiquity and is usually caused by the bite of an infected animal.  More than 98 percent of all human rabies deaths are caused by the bite(s) of rabid dogs.

Rabies is distributed worldwide and can affect any and all mammals including humans. The virus responsible for rabies infects the central nervous system resulting in a neurological disorder characterized by horrific clinical signs and symptoms in both animals and humans. Rabies poses a substantial threat to human health, killing more than 150 people every day worldwide, and approximately 40 percent of bite victims are children.

Any domestic mammal having contact with humans, including horses, should be vaccinated against rabies. If an animal is out of its usual habitat, such as a bat in your house or a fox in your yard in the city, you should be especially wary of touching these animals.

The recent ProMed issue #295 noted these occurrences in the United States just for the first few weeks of June.

  1. Coryell county Texas – cat: control worker bitten
  2. Garrett county, Maryland – raccoon: unvaccinated dog
  3. Ewing city, NJ – 2 raccoons
  4. Cottonwood, Yavapai county Arizona – Fox attack
  5. Longmont, Colorado – Bat
  6. Maine – woman encounters grey fox in garden
  7. Alabama: Rabid fox in Balwin County
  8. Pennsylvania – Rabid raccoon attacks dog in backyard
  9. South Carolina – Woman attacked by fox
  10. Ocean County, NJ – Rabies remains a concern for residents
  11. Greenville County, Greer, South Carolina – Man bitten by fox
  12. Appomattox County, Virginia – 3 raccoons test positive in last 2 months
  13. Cherokee County, Georgia – stray kitten, Vet scratched, Members of family involved
  14. Leesburg, Virginia – Pointer fighting with raccoon.
  15. Nebraska – Rabid cat bites child at school
  16. Oregon – Man who was bitten by an injured kitten should seek rabies treatment

The psychological impacts following bites by a rabid animal can be traumatic. The high costs of life-saving human vaccines and hospitalization and livestock losses to farmers have large economic impacts, especially on poor communities. Rabies also threatens the survival of endangered wildlife species. Controlling rabies is critically important to prevent human deaths and alleviate its burden in animal species and on local and national economies.

It is critical to vaccinate your companion animals and livestock.