Animal and Human Rabies
Rabies is a viral infection of the nervous system that affects only mammals and is transmitted primarily through the bite of an infected animal, as the virus is shed in the saliva. Each year in West Virginia, approximately 80 to 100 animals are confirmed to be rabid; most animal infections occur in wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Cats are the most common domestic animal to test positive for rabies. An animal infected with rabies will generally show signs of neurologic illness (uncharacteristic behavior, seizures, and/or paralysis). Rabies is preventable in domestic animals through routine vaccination. Human rabies infections are very rare, with 1 to 2 human cases occuring in the United States each year. The most recent human infection in a West Virginia resident occurred in 1994. Human rabies is preventable through administration of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
Current Case Definition
Archived Rabies Surveillance Data