RABIES HISTORY IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Rabies was first detected in our county more than one
hundred years ago. The first rabid animal was diagnosed
here in 1898 when an Englishman told the Health Officer his dog, which was uncontrollable, might have rabies. Confirmatory tests were
not available here at the time, and were run in Chicago.
The highest number rabid dogs (1,730) confirmed in the County of Los Angeles occurred in 1937. That year, a 57-year-old man saw a dog attack a group of school children. Rushing over, he grabbed the rabid dog and was bitten several times. He held it until police arrived. The man later died of rabies. In the fall, an Altadena veterinarian died of rabies.
In 1956, after the largest outbreak of rabies in cattle in Los Angeles County, all dogs within the County were required to be vaccinated against rabies as a prerequisite to licensing. Later California passed a similar law. Following mandatory rabies vaccination of dogs, the disease declined rapidly.
Rabies in dogs still predominates in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Today in North America and Europe rabies is found
primarily in wildlife. For example, in California during
2013 there were 152 rabid animals diagnosed. Bats (145)
and skunks (5) accounted for over 99% of the rabid animals. One
dog in San Mateo County and one cat in Sonoma County
were the only rabid domestic animal. That year all rabid animals (34) detected in Los Angeles County were bats.
RABIES IN BATS
In the United States today, bats account for most rabies cases in
people. This is due to the fact that people sometimes do not seek rabies
treatment after a bat bite. Bat bites may occasionally go unnoticed by the
victim, because some bat species have very small teeth.
Bats are the animals that most commonly carry rabies
in our county right now. Los Angeles County first began
testing bats for rabies in 1961. Testing is performed on
bats that are found near people and pets, or that are
acting abnormally. During most years, approximately 8-10
rabid bats are detected this way. In 2010 22 rabid bats
were found, and in 2012, an all-time record of 56 rabid
bats were detected. The cause of the increase is
Most bats do not have
rabies, and try to avoid contact with people and
pets. Bats are good for the environment because they eat
insects and pollinate plants. Bats are also protected by
Scroll down to bottom for latest Los Angeles
County and California rabies data.
RABIES IN OTHER ANIMALS
Other wild animal species have been diagnosed with
rabies in Los Angeles County, too.
Click here to learn
about rabies in wild animals (other than bats) in our
county and in the United States.
RABIES IN PEOPLE
The last human rabies death our county occurred in 2004. A man from Latin America had been living in the USA for over a year before becoming ill. The Centers for Disease Control determined the man died from a strain of dog rabies typically seen in his country of origin.
Click here to learn
about our last two human cases, and about human cases
from across the United States.
Click here to learn more about protecting people
LOS ANGELES COUNTY RABID BAT MAPS
Animal Rabies Cases in LA County
CALIFORNIA ANIMAL RABIES STATISTICS
- Rabid Animals in California, 2007
2011 Lecture about rabies
Rabies Control Manual
- Los Angeles County
related to Rabies - State of California
of Rabies Control - California Department of Public
Approved Rabies Vaccines for Animals in California -
CA Dept of Public Health, 2008
MULTIMEDIA RESOURCES - Click
HERE for CDC podcasts, videos, eCards and more about
Tales from Los Angeles County (cartoon)
Questions and Answers about Rabies
Bats and Rabies
Laboratory Slide (Image from LA
County Public Health Laboratory)
Physicians - click
HERE for more information about rabies.