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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1997 Dec 15;211(12):1525-39.

Rabies surveillance in the United States during 1996.

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Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998 Apr 15;212(8):1280.


In 1996, 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reported 7,124 cases of rabies in non-human animals and 4 cases in human beings to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 92% (6,550 cases) were wild animals, whereas 8% (574 cases) were domestic species. The total number of reported cases decreased 9.6% from that of 1995 (7,881 cases). Although much of the decline was the result of fewer reported cases of rabies in raccoons, fewer cases were also reported among most groups of animals. Numbers of cases associated with separate epizootics of rabies in foxes in west central Texas and in dogs and coyotes in southern Texas attributable to canine variants have declined, with 56.2% fewer rabid foxes (60), 72.7% fewer rabid dogs (15), and 76.3% fewer rabid coyotes (19) during 1996, compared with cases of rabies reported among these same species during 1995. Nationally, the number of reported rabid bats (741) decreased 5.8%, with cases reported by 46 of the 48 contiguous states. Four Eastern Seaboard states, enzootic for the raccoon variant of the rabies virus, reported noteworthy increases in total numbers of reported cases: Maine (29.7%; 101 cases in 1995 to 131 in 1996), Maryland (44.2%; 441 to 636), North Carolina (59.0%; 466 to 741), and Virginia (33.3%; 459 to 612). Increases were also reported by Florida (6.4%; 251 to 267) and Georgia (3.1%; 294 to 303). Cats continued to be the domestic animal most frequently reported rabid, but reported cases of rabies in cats (266), cattle (131), and dogs (111) decreased by 7.6%, 3.7%, and 24.0%, respectively. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia reported decreases in rabies in animals during 1996, compared with 18 states and Puerto Rico in 1995. Hawaii was the only state that did not report a case of rabies in 1996. Two indigenously acquired cases of rabies reported in human beings were the result of infection with rabies virus variants associated with bats, whereas the remaining 2 human rabies infections were acquired outside the United States, and the variants identified were consistent with those associated with rabid dogs.

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