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  • Author or Editor: Andres Velasco-Villa x
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe rabies and rabies-related events occurring during 2015 in the United States.

DESIGN

Observational study based on passive surveillance data.

ANIMALS

All animals submitted for rabies testing in the United States during 2015.

PROCEDURES

State and territorial public health programs provided data on animals submitted for rabies testing in 2015. Data were analyzed temporally and geographically to assess trends in domestic and sylvatic animal rabies cases.

RESULTS

During 2015, 50 states and Puerto Rico reported 5,508 rabid animals to the CDC, representing an 8.7% decrease from the 6,033 rabid animals reported in 2014. Of the 5,508 cases of animal rabies, 5,088 (92.4%) involved wildlife. Relative contributions by the major animal groups were as follows: 1,704 (30.9%) bats, 1,619 (29.4%) raccoons, 1,365 (24.8%) skunks, 325 (5.9%) foxes, 244 (4.4%) cats, 85 (1.5%) cattle, and 67 (1.2%) dogs. There was a 4.1% decrease in the number of samples submitted for testing in 2015, compared with the number submitted in 2014. Three human rabies deaths were reported in 2015, compared with only 1 in 2014. A 65-year-old man in Massachusetts was bitten by a rabid dog while abroad. A 77-year-old woman in Wyoming had contact with a bat. A 54-year-old man in Puerto Rico was bitten by a mongoose. The only connection among these 3 cases was that none received postexposure prophylaxis.

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. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2017;250:1117–1130)

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 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