Rabies in Wisconsin

The primary reservoirs of the rabies virus in Wisconsin are bats and skunks (Figures 1 and 2). Domestic animals almost always become infected from exposure to these wildlife reservoirs. Historically, skunks have been the predominant species infected by rabies, but for the past decade, the number of positive bats has exceeded that of skunks (Figure 1). The last four cases of human rabies in Wisconsin occurred in 1959, 2000, 2004, and 2010. All four persons contracted the disease from bats.

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Graph - Animal rabies in WI 1962-2012


Graph - Rabies positive by species in WI 2013-2012



Geographically, animal rabies cases are widely dispersed in Wisconsin, and occur in both rural and urban areas. Figure 3 shows the geographic distribution and species of cases diagnosed from 2008 through 2012.

Chart - Animal rabies diagnosed in WI 2008-2012

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Last Revised: March 23, 2015