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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Rabies (Human) in United States

14 Mar 2013

A human case of rabies virus infection has been reported by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the state of Maryland on the east coast of the United States (US). Details of the incident are not available at present, however, this is the first human to die from rabies in the state since 1976.

On average, less than five human cases of rabies infection have been reported in the US over the last 10 years. In 2012, the state of Maryland detected 320 animal cases of rabies. Recently, a woman in Maryland received post-exposure rabies prophylaxis following a bite from a raccoon whilst out running. It was not known if the raccoon was infected as it escaped capture.

Advice for Travellers

Travellers must be aware that rabies virus circulates in terrestrial animals in the US e.g. raccoons and skunks and should avoid contact with wildlife. All animal bites should be reported and carefully assessed; post-exposure treatment is accessible.