Ninety percent of all rabies cases occur in wildlife, such as bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Rabies in bats in South Dakota is up 60 percent over last year. There is a 13 percent increase in rabid raccoons. Twenty-five percent of skunks tested positive, a 13% decrease in South Dakota in 2016.

The year 2016 was the first year since 1999 with no human cases of rabies in the United States.

Vaccination, both in wildlife and domestic animals has reduced the disease considerably here, although annually, 59,000 humans die of rabies worldwide.

Most of the rabies in South Dakota is of skunk origin, although we see fewer skunks diagnosed with rabies, but 60% more bats are diagnosed with rabies. Thus, there are 60% more bats flying around with rabies than a year ago. All it takes is a hole the size of a quarter for a bat to enter your house.

Protect your pet with a safe, effective vaccine. I prefer vaccinations every year because people lose trace of the time to re-vaccinate, and because it’s good to have an annual pet check-up and not wait three years.