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Disease Carriers

Viruses: Rabies

Rabies is a fatal infection of the central nervous system acquired through the bite of a rabid animal. The 100% fatality rate of this infection when left untreated, and its near global distribution (estimated 60,000 human fatalities per year worldwide), makes rabies one of the most significant and dread diseases. While endemic dog rabies is of major concern worldwide, rabies control programs have reduced the number of dog rabies cases in the United States to less than 200/year. However, a large reservoir of rabies exists in wildlife animals (racoon, skunk, bat and fox).

In the United States, 35 cases of human rabies have been reported between 1990 and 2003. Infection is prevented in humans by injection of rabies immunoglobulin followed by a series of injections with rabies vaccine. However, to achieve this success, it is estimated that the cost associated with rabies control exceeds hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Visit the Rabies Laboratory site for additional images and information.

Negatively stained rabies virus seen by transmission electron microscopy.
Negatively stained rabies virus seen by transmission electron microscopy.

Learn more about rabies at the New York State Department of Health web site.