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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To provide epidemiological information on the occurrence of animal and human rabies in the US during 2021 and summaries of 2021 rabies surveillance for Canada and Mexico.

PROCEDURES

State and territorial public health departments and USDA Wildlife Services provided data on animals submitted for rabies testing in 2021. Data were analyzed temporally and geographically to assess trends in domestic animal and wildlife rabies cases.

RESULTS

During 2021, 54 US jurisdictions reported 3,663 rabid animals, representing an 18.2% decrease from the 4,479 cases reported in 2020. Texas (n = 456 [12.4%]), Virginia (297 [8.1%]), Pennsylvania (287 [7.8%]), North Carolina (248 [6.8%]), New York (237 [6.5%]), California (220 [6.0%]), and New Jersey (201 [5.5%]) together accounted for > 50% of all animal rabies cases reported in 2021. Of the total reported rabid animals, 3,352 (91.5%) involved wildlife, with bats (n = 1,241 [33.9%]), raccoons (1,030 [28.1%]), skunks (691 [18.9%]), and foxes (314 [8.6%]) representing the primary hosts confirmed with rabies. Rabid cats (216 [5.9%]), cattle (40 [1.1%]), and dogs (36 [1.0%]) accounted for 94% of rabies cases involving domestic animals in 2021. Five human rabies deaths were reported in 2021.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

The number of animal rabies cases reported in the US decreased significantly during 2021; this is thought to be due to factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Free 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.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe rabies and rabies-related events occurring during 2018 in the United States.

ANIMALS

All animals submitted for laboratory diagnosis of rabies in the United States during 2018.

PROCEDURES

State and territorial public health departments provided data on animals submitted for rabies testing in 2018. Data were analyzed temporally and geographically to assess trends in domestic animal and wildlife rabies cases.

RESULTS

During 2018, 54 jurisdictions reported 4,951 rabid animals to the CDC, representing an 11.2% increase from the 4,454 rabid animals reported in 2017. Texas (n = 695 [14.0%]), Virginia (382 [7.7%]), Pennsylvania (356 [7.2%]), North Carolina (332 [6.7%]), Colorado (328 [6.6%]), and New York (320 [6.5%]) together accounted for almost half of all rabid animals reported in 2018. Of the total reported rabies cases, 4,589 (92.7%) involved wildlife, with bats (n = 1,635 [33.0%]), raccoons (1,499 [30.3%]), skunks (1,004 [20.3%]), and foxes (357 [7.2%]) being the major species. Rabid cats (n = 241 [4.9%]) and dogs (63 [1.3%]) accounted for > 80% of rabid domestic animals reported in 2018. There was a 4.6% increase in the number of samples submitted for testing in 2018, compared with the number submitted in 2017. Three human rabies deaths were reported in 2018, compared with 2 in 2017.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

The overall number of animal rabies cases increased from 2017 to 2018. Laboratory diagnosis of rabies in animals is critical to ensure that human rabies postexposure prophylaxis is administered judiciously.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To provide epidemiological information on animal and human cases of rabies occurring in the United States during 2019 and summaries of 2019 rabies surveillance for Canada and Mexico.

ANIMALS

All animals submitted for laboratory diagnosis of rabies in the United States during 2019.

PROCEDURES

State and territorial public health departments and USDA Wildlife Services provided data on animals submitted for rabies testing in the United States during 2019. Data were analyzed temporally and geographically to assess trends in domestic and wildlife rabies cases.

RESULTS

During 2019, 53 jurisdictions submitted 97,523 animal samples for rabies testing, of which 94,770 (97.2%) had a conclusive (positive or negative) test result. Of these, 4,690 tested positive for rabies, representing a 5.3% decrease from the 4,951 cases reported in 2018. Texas (n = 565 [12.0%]), New York (391 [8.3%]), Virginia (385 [8.2%]), North Carolina (315 [6.7%]), California (276 [5.9%]), and Maryland (269 [5.7%]) together accounted for almost half of all animal rabies cases reported in 2019. Of the total reported rabid animals, 4,305 (91.8%) were wildlife, with raccoons (n = 1,545 [32.9%]), bats (1,387 [29.6%]), skunks (915 [19.5%]), and foxes (361 [7.7%]) as the primary species confirmed with rabies. Rabid cats (n = 245 [5.2%]) and dogs (66 [1.4%]) accounted for > 80% of rabies cases involving domestic animals in 2019. No human rabies cases were reported in 2019.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

The overall number of animal rabies cases decreased from 2018 to 2019. Laboratory diagnosis of rabies in animals is critical to ensure that human rabies postexposure prophylaxis is administered judiciously.

Full access
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 provide epidemiological information on animal and human cases of rabies in the US during 2020 and summaries of 2020 rabies surveillance for Canada and Mexico.

ANIMALS

All animals submitted for laboratory diagnosis of rabies in the US during 2020.

PROCEDURES

State and territorial public health departments and USDA Wildlife Services provided 2020 rabies surveillance data. Data were analyzed temporally and geographically to assess trends in domestic and wildlife rabies cases.

RESULTS

During 2020, 54 jurisdictions submitted 87,895 animal samples for rabies testing, of which 85,483 (97.3%) had a conclusive (positive or negative) test result. Of these, 4,479 (5.2%) tested positive for rabies, representing a 4.5% decrease from the 4,690 cases reported in 2019. Texas (n = 580 [12.9%]), Pennsylvania (371 [8.3%]), Virginia (351 [7.8%]), New York (346 [7.7%]), North Carolina (301 [6.7%]), New Jersey (257 [5.7%]), Maryland (256 [5.7%]), and California (248 [5.5%]) together accounted for > 60% of all animal rabies cases reported in 2020. Of the total reported rabid animals, 4,090 (91.3%) involved wildlife, with raccoons (n = 1,403 [31.3%]), bats (1,400 [31.3%]), skunks (846 [18.9%]), and foxes (338 [7.5%]) representing the primary hosts confirmed with rabies. Rabid cats (288 [6.4%]), cattle (43 [1.0%]), and dogs (37 [0.8%]) accounted for 95% of rabies cases involving domestic animals in 2020. No human rabies cases were reported in 2020.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

For the first time since 2006, the number of samples submitted for rabies testing in the US was < 90,000; this is thought to be due to factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as similar decreases in sample submission were also reported by Canada and Mexico.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To characterize clinical and epidemiologic features of SARS-CoV-2 in companion animals detected through both passive and active surveillance in the US.

ANIMALS

204 companion animals (109 cats, 95 dogs) across 33 states with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections between March 2020 and December 2021.

PROCEDURES

Public health officials, animal health officials, and academic researchers investigating zoonotic SARS-CoV-2 transmission events reported clinical, laboratory, and epidemiologic information through a standardized One Health surveillance process developed by the CDC and partners.

RESULTS

Among dogs and cats identified through passive surveillance, 94% (n = 87) had reported exposure to a person with COVID-19 before infection. Clinical signs of illness were present in 74% of pets identified through passive surveillance and 27% of pets identified through active surveillance. Duration of illness in pets averaged 15 days in cats and 12 days in dogs. The average time between human and pet onset of illness was 10 days. Viral nucleic acid was first detected at 3 days after exposure in both cats and dogs. Antibodies were detected starting 5 days after exposure, and titers were highest at 9 days in cats and 14 days in dogs.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results of the present study supported that cats and dogs primarily become infected with SARS-CoV-2 following exposure to a person with COVID-19, most often their owners. Case investigation and surveillance that include both people and animals are necessary to understand transmission dynamics and viral evolution of zoonotic diseases like SARS-CoV-2.

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To establish a pathoepidemiological model to evaluate the role of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first 10 companion animals that died while infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the US.

ANIMALS

10 cats and dogs that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and died or were euthanized in the US between March 2020 and January 2021.

PROCEDURES

A standardized algorithm was developed to direct case investigations, determine the necessity of certain diagnostic procedures, and evaluate the role, if any, that SARS-CoV-2 infection played in the animals’ course of disease and death. Using clinical and diagnostic information collected by state animal health officials, state public health veterinarians, and other state and local partners, this algorithm was applied to each animal case.

RESULTS

SARS-CoV-2 was an incidental finding in 8 animals, was suspected to have contributed to the severity of clinical signs leading to euthanasia in 1 dog, and was the primary reason for death for 1 cat.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

This report provides the global community with a standardized process for directing case investigations, determining the necessity of certain diagnostic procedures, and determining the clinical significance of SARS-CoV-2 infections in animals with fatal outcomes and provides evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can, in rare circumstances, cause or contribute to death in pets.

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association