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  • Author or Editor: Joseph T. Horman x
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The epizootic of rabies in raccoons in Maryland has been accompanied by 129 confirmed cases of rabies in cats from Jan 1, 1983 to Sept 30, 1992 and only 12 cases in dogs. An epidemiologic and clinical study of rabies in cats was conducted for the period Jan 1, 1983 to May 31, 1986. Only 3 of 31 rabid cats had a history of being currently vaccinated against rabies, and 13 were of unknown ownership. A history of prior wound or injury within 6 months of onset of signs of rabies was reported in 11 of the cats and most of these had a wound in a hind limb. The median interval between reporting of a wound and a development of rabies was 4 to 6 weeks.

Rabies in cats is difficult to diagnose in the early stages and, of the 14 cats examined by a veterinarian, only 3 were believed to have rabies on initial examination. Major signs of rabies in cats reported by veterinarians included behavior change, gait abnormality, strange or unusual look in the eyes, and a wound within the preceding 6 months. Owners reported increased frequency of vocalization as an early sign. Postexposure treatment was given to 194 human beings including 63 veterinarians or their personnel. The estimated cost of postexposure biologics was $68,000.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


The epizootic of rabies in raccoons entered Maryland in 1981 and systematically moved through the state affecting raccoons in all counties except those of the lower Eastern Shore. A precoded surveillance form was provided to all county and city health departments and data were requested for each animal head submitted for testing for the year 1985. The disease persisted and, in 1987, all counties previously reporting rabies in raccoons also had documented cases in other species. The incidence of rabies in raccoons increased in late winter and peaked in March. Most human exposures occurred during daylight hours and in private yards. Agricultural areas were similarly affected by rabid animals. Analysis of vaccination status of animals exposed to rabid animals gave estimations of statewide vaccination rates for dogs (70%) and cats (28%). The danger of rabies in cats was emphasized by the large number of animals exposed by each rabid cat. The spillover of rabies in raccoons to other species persisted in all jurisdiction through 1992, with periodic upsurges of disease at 3- to 4-year intervals as the raccoon population is replenished. Rabies was not diagnosed in any human beings.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To evaluate the effectiveness of an oral rabies vaccination (ORV) project conducted from 1998 through 2007 in Anne Arundel County, Md, for the control of rabies in terrestrial animals.

Design—Retrospective analysis of surveillance data (1997 through 2007).

Animals—Free-ranging raccoons (Procyon lotor) and other terrestrial mammals.

Procedures—Vaccinia-rabies glycoprotein recombinant virus oral rabies vaccine–bait units were distributed annually by aircraft and ground teams targeting free-ranging raccoons. Approximately 2 to 4 weeks following the vaccine-bait placement, raccoons were live trapped, sedated, processed, and then released. Serologic samples were tested for the presence of rabies virus–neutralizing antibodies (RVNAs). Bait acceptance was estimated by analysis of tetracycline biomarking of sampled teeth. Rabies incidence was determined by the passive identification of rabid terrestrial animals.

Results—The incidence of rabies in terrestrial animals decreased 92% between 1997 (the year prior to the start of the ORV project) and 2007. The mean RVNA prevalence across all years was 33% among trapped raccoons in areas baited with a fish meal polymer bait type, whereas the mean bait acceptance was 30%. Adult raccoons had a seropositivity rate twice that of juvenile raccoons, whereas the bait acceptance rate between adults and juveniles did not differ significantly. For areas baited with a coated sachet bait, adults and juveniles had the same seroprevalence. Juveniles had better seroprevalence when the annual campaign started in September and October, compared with August.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The ORV project contributed to a significant decrease in annual incidence of terrestrial animal rabies in Anne Arundel County, Md, during the 10-year project period. For fish meal polymer baits, juvenile raccoons accessed bait at the same rate as adult raccoons but had a significantly lower prevalence of RVNAs. For coated sachet baits, seroprevalence was the same in both age groups. The time of year the bait distribution occurred and the bait type used may be partial explanations for the difference in RVNA seroprevalence between adults and juvenile raccoons.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association