In the United States, an
average of one person per year dies from rabies. Worldwide however,
approximately 45,000 to 60,000 people die each year from rabies. The reason for
the relatively low number of deaths in the US is because of an aggressive
vaccination program for dogs, cats and ferrets. This statistic shows how
important it is to vaccinate all pets, not just dogs, cats and ferrets, but all
Fact: Rabies is found worldwide except for
a few islands, Australia, and Antarctica.
Fact: Of wildlife species in the US, wild
raccoons account for the largest number of rabies cases. Wild skunks account
for the second largest number of rabies cases in wildlife in the US.
Fact: All mammals are believed to be
susceptible to the rabies virus, but reservoirs are confined to Carnivores
(dogs, foxes, coyotes, cats, raccoons, skunks, mongooses, etc) and Chirpotera
Fact: More people die each year from dog
attacks than die from rabies. In 1999 alone, 11 people died from dog attacks,
and only 1 from rabies.
Fact: The post-exposure treatment for
humans is called the Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). It consists of human
rabies immune globulin and five doses of vaccine. Correct and timely
administration of the PEP provides nearly complete protection from the
development of clinical symptoms of rabies (and death) in humans.
Fact: Currently, the only effective rabies
tests must be performed on the brain after death with the direct fluorescent
antibody (dFA) test. There are a battery of tests that can be used for ante
mortem (prior to death) diagnosis of rabies in humans. However, to date, these
tests have proven to be unreliable. The Humane Society in the US is currently
looking for an effective ante mortem test.
Fact: Rabies virus may occur in saliva
before clinical signs begin. Generally in experimental rabies in skunks, virus
occurs in saliva at or slightly before onset of clinical signs and persists for
several days (maximum observed is 6 days). The skunk may harbor the virus for a
long period of time, but until it reaches the salivary glands, skunks can not
transmit the virus by biting. Clinical signs of rabies in skunks can last from
1-18 days before the animal dies. Skunks can not excrete the virus in saliva
and remain clinically free of symptoms for long periods of time, nor have skunks
recovered from clinical signs and continued to excrete the virus.
Fact: There are actually more polio cases
each year than there are rabies in humans.
For more information about Rabies in the United States, visit the Center for
Disease Controls Rabies information site at