Story at a glance

  • Five people died from rabies in the U.S. over the last year.
  • Rabies is a viral disease, typically transmitted through animals, that is preventable with vaccination.
  • The CDC estimates 30,000 to 60,000 people are treated for rabies exposure in the U.S. each year.

The United States reported its highest number of rabies deaths in a decade in 2021. 

Five people died from rabies in the U.S. over the last year. 

Rabies is a viral disease, typically transmitted through animals, that is preventable with vaccination. However, once symptoms of the disease begin to appear — including fever, pain, confusion, aggression, and paralysis — rabies is usually 100 percent fatal. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an announcement Wednesday warning of bat exposure, citing three rabies deaths that occurred in the fall after people didn’t seek medical attention following direct contact with bats. 


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The other two recorded rabies deaths occurred in early 2021. In one instance, a Minnesota man was bitten by a bat and promptly received his rabies vaccination but later died as an undiagnosed autoimmune disease diminished the vaccine’s effectiveness. 

The other death occurred after a man was bitten by a dog in the Philippines and died in New York from the disease upon returning to the U.S. 

The CDC estimates 30,000 to 60,000 people are treated for rabies exposure in the U.S. each year. The last time there were 5 rabies deaths in the U.S. over the course of a year was 2011. 


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Published on Jan 07, 2022