Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2016

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2018 Apr 15;252(8):945-957. doi: 10.2460/javma.252.8.945.


OBJECTIVE To describe rabies and rabies-related events occurring during 2016 in the United States. DESIGN Observational study based on passive surveillance data. ANIMALS All animals submitted for rabies testing in the United States during 2016. PROCEDURES State and territorial public health programs provided data on animals submitted for rabies testing in 2016. Data were analyzed temporally and geographically to assess trends in domestic and sylvatic animal rabies cases. RESULTS During 2016, 50 states and Puerto Rico reported 4,910 rabid animals to the CDC, representing a 10.9% decrease from the 5,508 rabid animals reported in 2015. Of the 4,910 cases of animal rabies, 4,487 (91.4%) involved wildlife. Relative contributions by the major animal groups were as follows: 1,646 (33.5%) bats, 1,403 (28.6%) raccoons, 1,031 (21.0%) skunks, 313 (6.4%) foxes, 257 (5.2%) cats, 70 (1.4%) cattle, and 58 (1.2%) dogs. There was a 4.6% decrease in the number of samples submitted for testing in 2016, compared with the number submitted in 2015. No human rabies deaths were reported in 2016. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Laboratory testing of animals suspected to be rabid remains a critical public health function and continues to be a cost-effective method to directly influence human rabies postexposure prophylaxis recommendations.

Publication types

  • Observational Study, Veterinary

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Population Surveillance
  • Rabies / epidemiology
  • Rabies / etiology
  • Rabies / veterinary*
  • United States / epidemiology