Travelers may have misconceptions about rabies and may underestimate their risks for exposure1,2


Geographic Distribution

  • Rabies is known to exist on every continent except Antarctica3
  • Africa and Asia have the highest human rabies burden, accounting for 95% of rabies deaths, worldwide3

Rabies in the US

  • Rabies is present in 49 of the the 50 US states5,6

             - Hawaii is free of rabies6

  • In 2018, 55,000 persons in the US sought post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment after contact with a potentially rabid animal.7
  • Every year 30,000 to 60,000 people come into contact with potentially rabid animals in the US.8
  • Over 70% of reported US cases of human rabies between 1960-2018 were US-acquired.7
  • Due to successful post-exposure treatment programs in the US, deaths each year associated with rabies are rare (averaging 1-2 per year in the US) but can still occur in people who fail to seek timely post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) usually because they are unaware of their exposure.8,9


Rabies: 99% Fatal, 100% Preventable10,11
  1. McIntosh I. Pre-Travel Health Consultation. Journal of Travel Medicine. 2015;22.3:143-144.

  2. International Assistance for Medical Assistance to Travellers., (accessed June 2021).

  3. World Health Organization (WHO). Rabies fact sheet. 27 September 2019., (accessed June 2021).

  4. Based on World Health Organization (WHO). Distribution of risk levels for humans contacting rabies, 2018., (accessed June 2021).

  5. Ma X, et al. Rabies surveillance in the US during 2018. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2020;256:195–208.

  6. State of Hawaii. Dept of Health. Rabies. (accessed June 2021).

  7. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vital Signs: Trends in Human Rabies Deaths and Exposures—United States 1938-2018. MMWR. 2019;68:524-528.

  8. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rabies in the US.,  (accessed June 2021).

  9. North American Rabies Management Plan: A Partnership for Effective Management, 2008. US National Overview.  (accessed June 2021).

  10. World Health Organization (WHO). Vaccinating against rabies to save lives.,  (accessed Nov 2021).

  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Rabies prevention., (accessed June 2021).