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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2009 Sep 15;235(6):676-89. doi: 10.2460/javma.235.6.676.

Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2008.

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  • 1Poxvirus and Rabies Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-borne, and Enteric Diseases, Coordinating Center for Infectious Disease, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


During 2008, 49 states and Puerto Rico reported 6,841 cases of rabies in animals and 2 cases in humans to the CDC, representing a 3.1% decrease from the 7,060 cases in animals and 1 case in a human reported in 2007. Approximately 93% of the cases were in wildlife, and 7% were in domestic animals. Relative contributions by the major animal groups were as follows: 2,389 (34.9%) raccoons, 1,806 (26.4%) bats, 1,589 (23.2%) skunks, 454 (6.6%) foxes, 294 (4.3%) cats, 75 (1.1%) dogs, and 59 (0.9%) cattle. Compared with numbers of cases reported in 2007, numbers of cases reported in 2008 increased among cats, cattle, and skunks and decreased among dogs, raccoons, bats, and foxes. Numbers of rabid raccoons reported during 2008 decreased in 11 of the 20 eastern states where raccoon rabies was enzootic; overall number of rabid raccoons reported decreased by 8.6% during 2008, compared with 2007. On a national level, the number of rabies cases involving skunks increased by 7.7% during 2008, compared with the number reported in 2007; this was the first increase in the number of reported rabid skunks since 2006. The total number of cases of rabies reported nationally in foxes decreased 1.7% in 2008, compared with 2007. The 1,806 cases of rabies reported in bats represented a 6.7% decrease, compared with the number reported in 2007. One case of rabies in a dog imported from Iraq was reported at a quarantine station in New Jersey during 2008. Follow-up of potentially exposed animals in the same shipment did not reveal any secondary transmission. The United States remained free from dog-to-dog transmission of canine rabies virus variants. Total number of rabid dogs reported decreased 19.4% in 2008, compared with 2007. Two human rabies cases were reported from California and Missouri during 2008. The California case involved a recent immigrant from Mexico and was attributed to a newly identified rabies virus variant most likely associated with Mexican free-tailed bats. The case in Missouri was attributed to a rabies virus variant associated with eastern pipistrelle and silver-haired bats.

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