Between 1985 and 1994, 368 cases of rabies in rodents (95% of reports) and lagomorphs (5%) were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia (USA), from 22 states. This was a 354% increase from the period 1971 to 1984. Most reports were cases of rabies in woodchucks (Marmota monax) (n = 317), primarily from the eastern United States, which has been recently experiencing an epizootic of raccoon (Procyon lotor) rabies. Cases of rabies in woodchucks were temporally and spatially associated with reports of raccoon rabies. Antigenic or genetic characterization of variants of rabies viruses from rodents and woodchucks corresponded to the variants associated with the major terrestrial wildlife reservoir within the geographic region of specimen origin. Although rodents and lagomorphs are infrequently infected with rabies and human contact with these animals rarely requires postexposure treatment, appropriate health authorities need to evaluate individual circumstances surrounding potential exposures.
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Vol. 33 • No. 1