Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rabies in the U.S. (Not so new, but interesting nonetheless)

Pro-Med recently released a report of rabies cases found in the U.S. during November and December 2010. These cases involved a variety of mammals (skunks, horses, foxes, cats, and raccoons), and occurred in several states. In some of the cases, humans were attacked by the rabid animals.  A few humans were bitten and had to proceed through a series of vaccinations.

From a general public health perspective,  background information in the report suggested how certain factors might limit the effectiveness of rabies surveillance and control . These include: failure to vaccinate pets,  human creation of habitats that facilitate rabies transmission (such as garbage-filled parks), inappropriate handling of potentially rabid animals, lack of follow-up testing for potentially rabid animals, failure to communicate public health concerns with the public, and insufficient enforcement of public health protocols for treating humans who have been bitten by a potentially rabid animal.

From a more virus-centric perspective, the variety of animals affected by rabies in this report reminds us that unlike most viruses, rabies is not specialized for one specific host. It can infect all mammals, giving it a wider host range than most viruses.


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