Epizootic of rabies in raccoons in Maryland from 1981 to 1987

Harvey R. Fischman From the Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205 (Fischman), and the Center for Veterinary Public Health, Community Health Surveillance Administration, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, MD 21201 (Grigor, Horman, Israel).

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Jack K. Grigor From the Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205 (Fischman), and the Center for Veterinary Public Health, Community Health Surveillance Administration, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, MD 21201 (Grigor, Horman, Israel).

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Joseph T. Horman From the Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205 (Fischman), and the Center for Veterinary Public Health, Community Health Surveillance Administration, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, MD 21201 (Grigor, Horman, Israel).

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Ebenezer Israel From the Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205 (Fischman), and the Center for Veterinary Public Health, Community Health Surveillance Administration, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore, MD 21201 (Grigor, Horman, Israel).

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Summary

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.

Summary

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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