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Rabid Dog!! Rabies Fact v Fiction

Rabid Dog is one of the most common cultural icons of rabid animals that everyone has. Everyone knows bites from rabid dogs are dangerous.

The problem with Everyone knows is that much of what everyone knows is dated and no longer true. Here's what you really need to know about rabies and rabid dogs.

Worldwide, the majority of the annual 50,000 human deaths due to rabies start with dog bites. According to the World Health Organization, 95% of these deaths happen in Asia and Africa.

In the US, the majority of human rabies infections happen not from dogs but from bat bites. Moreover, the number of reported US human rabies cases has fallen dramatically since 1900 when there were more than 100 cases/year. In the US, there are only 1~3 reported human rabies cases per year. The US cultural icon of Rabid Dog is a myth. You are much, much, much more likely to be struck and killed by lightning {31/year} than to be bit by a rabid dog{<0.1/year}. For all of 2016 in Florida, only a single dog tested positive for rabies.

Continuing the US Rabid Dog is a Myth meme, the percentage of reported rabid domestic versus rabid wild animals has shifted over time {1940s} from more than half {+50%} of all reported rabid animals being domesticated to less than 8% domesticated animals per year. The largest percentages of reported rabid animals today are wild raccoon {~30%), bats {~29%} and skunks {~20%}. All other wild species fall below {~6%}. When you're in the woods, you don't need to fear "Lions, Tigers and Bears", but rather "Raccoon, Bats and Skunks" Oh My!

Note there are only 11 total US reported human to human rabies transmissions. None of these were through bites or spitting. All these infections happened through organ (8 cornea and 3 solid) transplants. There are no US documented cases of human to human rabies transmission through bites or spitting. Newer rules for organ transplants have virtually eliminated this as a cause of human to human rabies cases.

In the US and other Industrialized countries, rabies is controlled through domestic animal vaccinations. Prevention works! Just compare the number of rabies deaths in the US {zero deaths} to the rest of the world.

Because of the large reservoir of rabies in various wild animal populations, rabies cannot be eradicated like polio. The main rabies prevention strategy is consistent and complete vaccination of our domestic animal population every year. This includes all dogs, cats and ferrets as well as all livestock.

While many people regard rabies laws and vaccinations as a nuisance and irritating governmental interference; complete up to date rabies vaccinations of all domestic animals maintains protection for everyone. It really works.

Always keep your furry family members up to date on their Rabies vaccinations!


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