Cryptogenic rabies, bats, and the question of aerosol transmission.Ann Emerg Med. 2002 May; 39(5):528-36.AE
Human rabies is rare in the United States; however, an estimated 40,000 patients receive rabies postexposure prophylaxis each year. Misconceptions about the transmission of rabies are plentiful, particularly regarding bats. Most cases of human rabies caused by bat variants have no definitive history of animal bite. Three hypotheses are proposed and reviewed for the transmission of rabies from bats to human beings. They include nonbite transmission (including aerosol transmission), the alternate host hypothesis (an intermediate animal host that acquires rabies from a bat and then transmits rabies to human beings), and minimized or unrecognized bat bites. Nonbite transmission of rabies is very rare, and aerosol transmission has never been well documented in the natural environment. The known pathogenesis of rabies and available data suggest that all or nearly all cases of human rabies attributable to bats were transmitted by bat bites that were minimized or unrecognized by the patients.