Imported human rabies--California, 2008.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009 Jul 10; 58(26):713-6.MM
Compared with rabies in developing countries, human rabies is rare in the United States, but animal rabies is common. In the United States, most human rabies cases are associated with rabid bats, whereas in developing countries, dogs are the most common reservoir and vector species. In March 2008, a case of imported human rabies in a recently arrived, undocumented Mexican immigrant was laboratory confirmed by public health officials in California. The rabies virus isolated from the patient was a previously uncharacterized variant most closely related to viruses found in Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis). The molecular and phylogenetic characterizations of this rabies virus variant have been described previously. This report summarizes the epidemiologic investigation and the ensuing public health response. A total of 20 persons, mostly household contacts, received postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) because of potential exposure to rabies virus from the patient. The findings underscore the difficulties encountered in the diagnosis and epidemiologic investigations of imported human rabies cases and the importance of a coordinated public health response across multiple international jurisdictions.