There are a number of ways to prevent an infection with the rabies virus. Some of these suggestions are important for pet owners. Other suggestions are common-sense ways to avoid contact with potential rabid animals.
(Click How to Prevent Rabies for more information.)
In 2001, 7,437 cases of rabies were reported in the United States. Raccoons accounted for almost 40 percent of reported cases. There was one case in humans during 2001, and three cases in 2002.
Over the last 100 years, rabies in the United States has changed dramatically. More than 90 percent of all animal cases reported annually to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now occur in wildlife. Before 1960, the majority of rabies cases 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 1990s. Modern-day prophylaxis has proven nearly 100 percent effective. 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.
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