World Rabies Day
September 28th, 2022
A global health observance started in 2007 to raise awareness about rabies and bring together partners to enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide. World Rabies Day is observed in many countries, including the United States.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.
Rabies Around the World:
Each year, rabies causes approximately 59,000 deaths worldwide. Despite evidence that control of dog rabies through animal vaccination programs and elimination of stray dogs can reduce the incidence of human rabies, dog rabies remains common in many countries and exposure to rabid dogs is still the cause of over 90% of human exposures to rabies and of 99% of human rabies deaths worldwide.
Rabies causes approximately 59,000 deaths worldwide, every year.
What Animals Get Rabies?
Rabies affects only mammals. Mammals are warm-blooded animals with fur. In the United States, more than 90% of reported cases of rabies in animals occur in wildlife. The wild animals that most commonly carry rabies in the United States are raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
Contact with infected bats is the leading cause of human rabies deaths in this country; at least 7 out of 10 Americans who die from rabies in the US were infected by bats.
Pets (like cats and dogs) and livestock (like cattle and horses) can also get rabies. Nearly all the pets and livestock that get rabies had not received vaccination or were not up to date on rabies vaccination. Most pets get rabies from having contact with wildlife.
Because of laws requiring dogs to be vaccinated for rabies in the United States, dogs make up only about 1% of rabid animals reported each year in this country. However, dog rabies remains common in many countries. Exposure to rabid dogs is still the cause of nearly all human rabies deaths worldwide. Exposure to rabid dogs outside the US is the second leading cause of rabies deaths in Americans.