Published Date: 2007-06-09 13:00:01
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Rabies, rodent - USA (OR) (02): not
Archive Number: 20070609.1881
RABIES, RODENT - USA (OREGON) (02): NOT
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Fri 8 June 2007
From: Jo Hofmann <Jo.Hofmann@doh.wa.gov>
Rats may carry a lot of things, but they don't get rabies. This particular
rat was not infected with rabies, based on tissue examination at the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lab. I'm sure Paul Cieslak
will e-mail you with the same info.
Jo Hofmann, MD
State Epidemiologist for Communicable Disease
Washington State Department of Health
1610 NE 150th Street Shoreline, WA 98155
Date: Mon 4 June 2007
Source: KTVZ.com (Oregon), Associated Press report [edited]
Health officials [in Portland, Oregon] said today [4 Jun 2007], that the
rat found in Deschutes County and believed to be carrying the rabies virus
does NOT have the disease.
Health officials thought it might be diseased and took the rare step last
week of sending it to scientists at the federal CDC. Tests [performed
there] show it was not rabid. The rat was discovered when a La Pine
resident's dog picked it up.
Rabies, which can be fatal for humans, is found most often in bats in
Oregon. Rats are not thought to be carriers.
Virginia Dato, MD MPH
Public Health Physician
Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Bureau of Epidemiology
Southwest District Office
514 Pittsburgh State Office Building=20
300 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
[It is generally agreed that rats are not a common carrier of rabies, but
rats and other rodents are still mammals and can indeed acquire rabies.
Rats have been shown to transmit salivaborne diseases. A number of
publications (Downing et al 2001, Graves and Janda 2001, Grude 2001,
Schuurman et al 1998, Hagelskjaer et al 1998, Hockman et al 2000, Weber
1982) document the transmission of rat bite fever.
Salivaborne diseases transmitted by a rat bite include rat bite fever
(Downing et al 2001, Graves and Janda 2001, Grude 2001, Schuurman et al
1998, Hagelskjaer et al 1998, Hockman et al 2000, Weber 1982), ratpox
(Marennnikova et al 1988, Postma et al 1991), and, extremely rarely,
rabies. (Rat bite fever, a rare disease, has 2 causative organisms:
_Streptobacillus moniliformis_ and _Spirillum minus_. According to Washburn
1995 and Wilkins 1988, the normal flora of many rodents, rats included, is
In the United States there are no documented cases of rats causing rabies
in human beings. However, there are documented cases of rats causing rabies
in human beings in other countries. Poland has recorded cases, as described
by Zmudzinski and Smreczak 1995, and by Wincewicz 2002. Likewise, Israel
has had rabies transmitted by rats (Gdalevich et al 2000), as have Thailand
(Kamoltham et al 2002) and Surinam (Verlinde et al 1975).
According to Winkler 1973, there have been few infected rats in the US.
When Winkler reviewed the literature covering an 18 year period between
1953 and 1970, only a small number of rabid rats (39 rats) were reported.
During the 3 year period of 1953-1955, only 11 rabid rats were reported to
be found with rabies in the US. A decline seemed to be occurring, as during
the 3 year period of 1968-1970 there were only 2 reports of rabid rats.
Winkler does speculate on the reason for the decline, but this moderator
finds no merit in his speculation. Smith et al (1968) indicated that in
Thailand 9 Norway rats out of 192 or 4.7 per cent were found to be carrying
So clearly, rodents, being mammals can indeed carry and transmit rabies as
well as other salivaborne diseases. It is just not a common occurrence in
the US. And in this case the rodent in question did not have rabies. - Mod.TG]