Animal Rabies--1991 Iowa Summary

News Article

The following information comes from the Iowa Department of Public Health and is adapted from the State of Iowa Disease Bulletin, Volume XVI, Number 1, February, 1992. Readers desiring additional information are encouraged to contact Dr. Russell Currier, Division of Disease Prevention, Iowa Department of Public Health, Lucas Building, Des Moines IA 50319-0075.

The number of cases of animal rabies in Iowa in 1991 declined to a total of 156. This compares to 215 cases in 1990 and 203 cases in 1989. All regions of the state have reported rabies cases in the past year, and in the last decade, 98 of 99 counties have reported rabies in at least one species. Rabies in animals in Iowa was reported in the following species during 1991.

Skunk Feline Equine Fox Bovine Canine Bat
84 12 3 1 39 10 7

Cattle are generally not immunized but are highly susceptible. Three of the 39 cattle cases reported last year were known to be registered stock and had a total value of $37,600. Intensive care during the clinical phase of illness resulted in exposure of 15 farm workers in three states and 16 veterinarians and staff. Exposed individuals received treatment as appropriate. These incidents support the need for including rabies immunization in the preventive medicine program for registered and/or valuable and/or show cattle.

The following table shows the rabies profiles in other domestic animals in 1991.

Species History of Vaccination Case/Locale Clinical Illness Human Treatment
Dogs 0 of 101 1 urban2/9 rural 1 furious/9 dumb 0 bite/33 nonbite
Cats 0 of 12 0 urban/12 rural3 6 furious/4 dumb 2 unknown 7 bite/4 nonbite
Horses 0 of 3 3 rural 2 furious/1 dumb 4 bite/5 nonbite
  1. One dog too young to vaccinate; two expired immunizations.
  2. Within city limits (population 2000).
  3. Outdoor / stray cats.

Dogs generally exhibit "dumb" rabies behavior terminally; cats show "furious" signs and a proclivity to bite. As seen in the table, reported cases in these species reflect lack of immunization and maintenance in rural locales. Horses, as noted for registered cattle, are intensively managed during illness and serious human exposure results.

Immunization is the principal means of preventing animal rabies and its consequent human exposure and economic distress. No other suitable alternative exists.

Reported Cases of Rabies in Animals in Iowa in 1991
County Distribution by species (click for full-size)

This article originally appeared in the March 25, 1992 issue, p. 38.