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Abstract

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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To describe rabies and rabies-related events occurring during 2017 in the United States.

DESIGN Cross-sectional analysis of passive surveillance data.

ANIMALS All animals submitted for laboratory diagnosis of rabies in the United States during 2017.

PROCEDURES State and territorial public health departments provided data on animals submitted for rabies testing in 2017. Data were analyzed temporally and geographically to assess trends in domestic and sylvatic animal rabies cases.

RESULTS During 2017, 52 jurisdictions reported 4,454 rabid animals to the CDC, representing a 9.3% decrease from the 4,910 rabid animals reported in 2016. Of the 4,454 cases of animal rabies, 4,055 (91.0%) involved wildlife species. Relative contributions by the major animal groups were as follows: 1,433 (32.2%) bats, 1,275 (28.6%) raccoons, 939 (21.1%) skunks, 314 (7.0%) foxes, 276 (6.2%) cats, 62 (1.4%) dogs, and 36 (0.8%) cattle. There was a 0.4% increase in the number of samples submitted for testing in 2017, compared with the number submitted in 2016. Two human rabies deaths were reported in 2017, compared with none in 2016.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE The overall number of reported cases of animal rabies has decreased over time. 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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate knowledge, attitudes, and practices of deer owners following identification of a cluster of captive deer with rabies as an aid for the development of rabies prevention educational materials.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Population—Captive-deer owners who were members of the Pennsylvania Deer Farmers Association.

Procedures—Information was obtained via a mailed, self-administered questionnaire.

Results—The questionnaire response rate was 59% (249/425). One hundred three of 206 (50%) respondents had incomplete knowledge of rabies virus vectors, transmission, severity, and prevention measures. Birds or snakes were incorrectly identified as rabies vectors by 96 of 213 (45%) respondents, and most (≥ 94%) respondents identified rabies virus reservoirs as vectors. Ninety of 231 (39%) respondents identified death as an outcome of rabies, and 184 of 235 (78%) respondents would seek emergency treatment if they suspected exposure. Only 62 of 235 (26%) respondents would wash a wound immediately. The majority of respondents (173/239 [72%]) did not know the clinical signs of rabies in deer. Nine respondents indicated that they vaccinated their deer against rabies, and the majority of respondents (158/214 [74%]) would be willing to vaccinate.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings suggested that deer owners in Pennsylvania have a basic knowledge of rabies; however, knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding prevention of rabies transmission could be improved considerably. Rabies educational materials for deer owners should focus on postexposure procedures, disease severity, recognition of rabies in deer, and changes in management practices such as vaccination to prevent rabies.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To evaluate rabies virus (RABV) characterization data obtained from animal specimens submitted to the US public health rabies surveillance system and propose a standardized approach to sample selection for RABV characterization that could enhance early detection of important rabies epizootic events in the United States.

SAMPLE

United States public health rabies surveillance system data collected from January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2015.

PROCEDURES

Data were reviewed to identify RABV-positive specimens for which virus characterization would likely provide information regarding any of 4 overarching events (discovery of novel variants, translocation of RABV variants, host-shift events, and any unusual rabies-related event) that could substantially alter animal rabies epizootiology in the United States. These specimens were designated as specimens of epizootiological importance (SEIs). Estimates of the additional number of specimens that public health laboratories could expect to process each year if all SEIs underwent RABV characterization were calculated.

RESULTS

During the 6-year period, the mean annual number of SEIs was 855 (95% CI, 739 to 971); the mean number of SEIs that underwent virus characterization was 270 (95% CI, 187 to 353). Virus characterization of all SEIs would be expected to increase the public health laboratories’ test load by approximately 585 (95% CI, 543 to 625) specimens/y.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Prioritization of RABV characterization of SEIs may improve early detection of rabies events associated with RABV host shifts, variant translocations, and importation. Characterization of SEIs may help refine wildlife rabies management practices. Each public health laboratory should evaluate testing of SEIs to ensure diagnostic laboratory capacity is not overstretched.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To evaluate species identification and rabies virus (RABV) characterization among samples from bats submitted for rabies testing in the United States and assess whether a standardized approach to specimen selection for RABV characterization could enhance detection of a sentinel event in virus dissemination among bats.

SAMPLE

United States public health rabies surveillance system data collected in January 2010 through December 2015.

PROCEDURES

The number of rabies-tested bats for which species was reported and the number of RABV-positive samples for which virus characterization would likely provide information regarding introduction of novel RABV variants and translocation and host-shift events were calculated. These specimens were designated as specimens of epizootiological importance (SEIs). Additionally, the estimated test load that public health laboratories could expect if all SEIs underwent RABV characterization was determined.

RESULTS

Species was reported for 74,928 of 160,017 (47%) bats submitted for rabies testing. Identified SEIs were grouped in 3 subcategories, namely nonindigenous bats; bats in southern border states, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands; and bats of species that are not commonly found to be inflected with RABV. Annually, 692 (95% CI, 600 to 784) SEIs were identified, of which only 295 (95% CI, 148 to 442) underwent virus characterization. Virus characterization of all SEIs would be expected to increase public health laboratories’ overall test load by 397 (95% CI, 287 to 506) samples each year.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Species identification and RABV characterization may aid detection of a sentinel event in bat RABV dissemination. With additional resources, RABV characterization of all SEIs as a standardized approach to testing could contribute to knowledge of circulating bat RABV variants.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To identify knowledge and practices related to rabies vaccination and serologic monitoring among animal care workers in the United States.

DESIGN Cross-sectional survey.

SAMPLE 2,334 animal care workers (ie, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, animal control workers, and wildlife rehabilitators).

PROCEDURES Participants were contacted through relevant professional organizations to participate in an anonymous web-based survey. The survey collected demographic and occupational information, animal handling and potential rabies exposure information, and individual rabies vaccination and serologic monitoring practices. Comparisons of animal bite and rabies exposure rates were made between occupational groups. Multiple logistic regression was used to evaluate factors associated with rabies vaccination status and adherence to serologic monitoring recommendations.

RESULTS Respondents reported 0.77 animal bites/person-year or 0.10 bites/1,000 animals handled. The overall rate of postexposure prophylaxis due to an occupational rabies exposure was 1.07/100 person-years. Veterinarians reported the highest rabies vaccination rate (98.7% [367/372]), followed by animal control workers (78.5% [344/438]), wildlife rehabilitators (78.2% [122/156]), and veterinary technicians (69.3% [937/1,352]). Respondents working for employers requiring rabies vaccination and serologic monitoring were 32.16 and 6.14 times, respectively, as likely to be vaccinated or have a current serologic monitoring status as were respondents working for employers without such policies.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested that, given the high reported rates of animal bites and potential rabies exposures among animal care workers, improvements in rabies vaccination and serologic monitoring practices are needed.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine percentages of domestic cats and dogs vaccinated against rabies, identify barriers to vaccination, and assess knowledge about rabies in a semirural New Mexico community after a skunk rabies outbreak.

Design—Cross-sectional, door-to-door, bilingual, community-based participatory survey.

Sample—366 residential properties in Eddy County, NM.

Procedures—The New Mexico Department of Health and CDC administered surveys and analyzed data.

Results—Individuals at 247 of the 366 residential properties participated in the survey. One hundred eighty of the 247 (73%) households owned a dog (n = 292) or cat (163). Cats were more likely than dogs to not have an up-to-date rabies vaccination status (prevalence ratio, 3.2; 95% confidence interval, 2.3 to 4.4). Cost and time or scheduling were the most frequently identified barriers to vaccination. One hundred sixty (65%) respondents did not know livestock can transmit rabies, 78 (32%) did not know rabies is fatal, and 89 (36%) did not know a bat scratching a person can be an exposure. Only 187 (76%) respondents indicated they would contact animal control if they saw a sick skunk, and only 166 (67%) indicated they would contact animal control if bitten by a dog they did not own.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings indicated that rabies vaccination prevalence among pet dogs and cats was low, despite the fact that the region had experienced a skunk rabies outbreak during the previous 2 years. In addition, substantial percentages of respondents did not have correct knowledge of rabies or rabies exposure.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association