United States Declared Canine-Rabies Free

For the last several decades, state and local public health authorities in the United States have been working on the prevention and control of rabies. Coincident with the recognition of World Rabies Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has formally declared the elimination of the type of rabies previously found in dogs in the United States.?

Rabies in humans is preventable, yet accounts for at least 55,000 deaths annually around the world – almost one death every 10 minutes. The World Rabies Day initiative, founded by CDC and the UK charity Alliance for Rabies Control and co-sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), aims to raise awareness and funding for rabies prevention and control globally.

In the United States, canine-rabies elimination was achieved through implementation of dog vaccination and licensing, and stray dog control. "We remain optimistic that this official declaration of canine-rabies free status in the United States could be replicated throughout the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere," said Dr. Charles Rupprecht, Chief of the CDC Rabies Program. However adoption of dogs from other countries with canine-rabies demonstrates the fragile nature of the current canine-rabies-free status of the United States and highlights the need for global control and continued emphasis on rabies prevention and control from the local to national levels.

Despite the elimination of canine-rabies, the disease remains a human threat in the US particularly from bats. Rabies also remains a potential threat through spillover infections from wildlife to domestic animals adaptation to new animal reservoirs, movement of potentially infected animals, and lack of adequate vaccination coverage of domestic animals, particularly cats and dogs.

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