U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

February 2002


From the Proc. 20th Vertebr. Pest Conf.


Persistence of unique rabies virus variants in a diverse array of terrestrial carnivores and insectivorous bats makes rabies control in the US. a complex task The public health system in the U.S. is effective in keeping human deaths near zero each year in the face of enzootic wildlife rabies, but the annual cost of coexistence with the disease is high, exceeding $300 million. In addition, each year tens of thousands of people are impacted by anxiety, fear, and trauma associated with potential or actual rabies exposure to themselves and their domestic animals. Exclusion, proper storage and disposal of garbage, and removal of problem animals are often effective alternatives to address wildlife rabies threats at specific sites; however, oral rabies vaccination (ORV) is the only currently available technique that shows promise for wildlife rabies control on a broad geographic and species scale. In this paper, we discuss progress toward using ORV to contain specific terrestrial rabies virus variants in the U.S. and planning towards coordinated national efforts to explore the elimination of terrestrial variants of rabies virus in the U.S.