Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the central nervous system of humans and animals. The virus is usually passed to humans via the bite of a rabid animal. It is also possible, but quite rare, for people to get rabies from a rabid animal if saliva gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.

Human rabies is rare in the United States. Currently, most of the human cases reported in the U.S. are caused by rabid bats. Any mammal can contract rabies. In California, most cases of rabies occur in skunks and bats. Domestic animals account for 3 percent of animal rabies, and the rest occur in a variety of wild animals, including foxes. Independent transmission cycles in skunks and bats maintain the virus in nature in California.

If you think you may have been exposed to rabies, please contact your health-care provider. Health-care providers seeking rabies postexposure prophylaxis consultation should contact the Public Health Department by calling (442) 265-1464.