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January 22, 1997

Update: Raccoon Rabies Epizootic— United States, 1996

JAMA. 1997;277(4):282-283. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540280020012

SINCE 1960, rabies has been reported more frequently in wild animals than in domestic animals in the United States. In 1995, wildlife rabies accounted for 92% of animal rabies cases reported to CDC; approximately 50% of these cases (3964 of 7881 total cases) were associated with raccoons.1 This report describes the continuing spread of an epizootic of raccoon rabies in affected mid-Atlantic and northeastern states and the spread into Ohio, indicating an increasing move westward despite geographic barriers.

New York.  Rabies was first confirmed in raccoons in New York in May 1990; since then, 7851 cases of animal rabies (6637 in raccoons and 1214 in domestic and other wild animals infected with the raccoon rabies virus variant) have been confirmed from all 62 counties in the state. Since 1990, the raccoon rabies epizootic has spread steadily northward within the state at an average rate of 25 miles per year.