Health Officials Investigate Rare Human Case of Rabies

May 12, 2017

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Individual contracted disease while traveling abroad.

(Richmond, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is investigating a confirmed case of human rabies. The Virginia resident was bitten by a dog while traveling in India.

While the only documented cases of human-to-human transmission of rabies have been via organ transplantation, acting out of an abundance of caution, VDH is assessing those who had direct contact with this patient to see if there is any concern that they may have been exposed to rabies.

VDH is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and healthcare centers where the patient sought care, to assess any healthcare worker who potentially may have been exposed to rabies virus due to contact with this patient. VDH is also working to identify any family members and close contacts who may have been exposed to rabies virus due to contact with this patient.

No additional information about the individual will be released to protect their privacy. Our thoughts are with the patient and the patient’s family.   

Human rabies cases in the United States are rare, with only 1 to 3 cases reported annually. Twenty-eight cases of human rabies have been diagnosed in the United States since 2006, of which 8 cases were infected outside the United States and its territories. The last time VDH reported a human rabies case was in 2009. This patient had also traveled to India and was bitten by a dog while there.

Those traveling internationally should check with their healthcare providers about vaccinations or other health precautions that are recommended prior to departure. A comprehensive resource for travel health recommendations, for healthcare providers and travelers, is available at: