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August 28, 1981

Human rabies reported for first time in almost two years

JAMA. 1981;246(9):932. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320090010005

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The recently reported human rabies case in Oklahoma City is the nation's first in nearly two years. However, it is the ninth (out of a total of 16) since 1966 in which there was no history of the patient's having been bitten by an animal.

The patient, a 27-year-old man, died last month after nine days in a hospital. The diagnosis of rabies was made postmortem.

At the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta, officials say that when rabies is not diagnosed before death, it often is because there is an absence of hydrophobia or of a known history of exposure to the neurotropic virus. They say that the Oklahoma case "again shows that, for patients with encephalopathic illness of undetermined etiology, rabies should be considered."

These officials also note that no human-to-human transmission of the rabies virus has been documented in the United States, except in the case of