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Rabies (Human Exposure) in United States

01 Aug 2012

Human exposure to rabid animals has been reported from three of the United States.

The first report was from Spencer in the state of Iowa where a 10-year-old child was bitten whilst handling a sick bat that fell from a tree. The bat tested positive for rabies virus and the child is currently receiving post-exposure rabies prophylaxis. Several other children are thought to have handled that bat and they have been asked to come forward for treatment.

In Lowell in the state of Vermont, a stray cat viciously attacked four individuals and a dog in two separate incidents. The cat tested positive for rabies virus post-mortem.

The third report of human exposure to rabies virus came from Grayson County, Texas. At the end of June 2012, a show cow tested postive for rabies virus. Officials consider that as the animal was a family pet, exposure to rabies virus will most likely have taken place. Bovine rabies is relatively rare and of the 232 counties in Texas that test for animal rabies, only 9 included bovine rabies.

Advice for Travellers

Travellers should be aware that rabies does occur in terrestrial animals in some areas of America and wildlife should not be approached, particularly if they appear sick or are behaving strangely e.g. raccoons and skunks. All animal bites should be reported and carefully assessed; post-exposure treatment is accessible.