DVM Newsmagazine reports on rabies in the United States:
National report — The number of rabies-infected cats was almost four times that of rabies-infected dogs in the United States in 2008, according to a new report from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Cats may be more prone to rabies because theyre vaccinated less and roam outdoors unsupervised more often than dogs, the report suggests.
The data, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appears in a new AVMA rabies backgrounder published online in advance of World Rabies Day, Sept. 28. The report also covers the history of rabies and its prevalence around the world as well as clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment and euthanasia protocols for infected and possibly infected animals.
Most rabies infections — 93 percent — are seen in wild animals, according to the report, but most post-exposure rabies prophylaxis (PEP) in humans is administered because of exposure to rabid or possibly rabid cats and dogs.
Researchers also warn that imported dogs carry the threat of a resurgence of canine rabies variants in this country. They point to a rabid puppy that arrived from India in 2007, and a rabid dog from Iraq imported into New Jersey in 2008.
The complete study, Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2008 appears in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
A quick visit to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website provided hard numbers. In 2008, 49 states (Hawaii is rabies free) and Puerto Rico reported 294 rabid cats, 75 rabid dogs, and two people with rabies. Both human cases appeared to spread by bats. Both people died.
Bear in mind that these numbers are relatively small. Rabies is not common in developed countries. However, it is a major threat to humans and animals in some parts of the world. In these areas, dogs are the leading source of human rabies.
Chart: American Veterinary Medical Association.