Rabies is rare in people in the U.S., according to Public Health. Only one to three cases are reported annually, with 60,000 Americans getting post-exposure prophylaxis, or rabies shots, each year to prevent infection.
More than 90% of rabies cases reported in the country occur in wildlife. Raccoon, skunks, bats and foxes are the most common carriers. At least seven out of 10 people who die from rabies were infected by bats, according to Public Health.
Bat scratches or bites can be very small, but can still spread rabies. Bats have small teeth and marks can disappear quickly, according to Public Health.
To prevent rabies, Public Health recommends the following:
- Leave all wildlife alone.
- Know the risk: Contact with infected bats is the leading cause of rabies deaths.
- Wash animal bites or scratches immediately with soap and water.
- Anyone who is bit, scratched or unsure should talk to a health care provider about if they need rabies shots.
- Vaccinate pets to protect them and loved ones.