Winter 2016

The Scoop on Rabies

A numerical rundown of the past and present of this disease

Thanks to pet vaccination, animal control and disease-surveillance programs begun in the 1940s, rabies is no longer a major problem in the U.S. But worldwide, at least one person dies from the disease every nine minutes—often a child—as a result of exposure to rabid dogs.

Bats are the top cause of U.S. human rabies cases, because their tiny bites are often undetected, particularly by small children or sleeping people. Any warm-blooded animal can get rabies, which is transmitted by saliva.


Number of minutes you should wash a wound if you’re bitten by an animal before seeking medical attention.


Percentage of all animal rabies cases in the U.S. that occur in wildlife—raccoons (32.3%), bats (27.2%), skunks (24.6%) and foxes (5.9%).




The year French microbiologist Louis Pasteur successfully administered the first rabies vaccine, to Joseph Meister, a 9-year-old boy bitten by a rabid dog.

6 months

How long a U.S. pet owner typically must pay for an unvaccinated pet to undergo a rabies quarantine if it is bitten by a wild animal or has a wound of unknown origin.

300Wcontinents rabies



The number of continents where rabies is present. The disease does not exist on Antarctica, and it has been reported in every U.S. state but Hawaii.



The number of rabies cases that are fatal—and the number of human deaths that can be prevented when a vaccine is given soon after exposure, according to the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.

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