This is the first comprehensive epidemiological analysis of rabies in Costa Rica. We characterized the occurrence of the disease and demonstrated its endemic nature in this country. In Costa Rica, as in other countries in Latin America, hematophagous vampire bats are the primary wildlife vectors transmitting the rabies virus to cattle herds. Between 1985 and 2014, a total of 78 outbreaks of bovine rabies was reported in Costa Rica, with documented cases of 723 dead cattle. Of cattle outbreaks, 82% occurred between 0 and 500 meters above sea level, and seasonality could be demonstrated on the Pacific side of the country, with significantly more outbreaks occurring during the wet season. A total of 1588 animal samples, or an average of 55 samples per year, was received by the veterinary authority (SENASA) for rabies diagnostic testing at this time. Of all samples tested, 9% (143/1588) were positive. Of these, 85.6% (125/1588) were from cattle; four dogs (0.3% [4/1588]) were diagnosed with rabies in this 30-year period. Simultaneously, an extremely low number (n = 3) of autochthonous rabies cases were reported among human patients, all of which were fatal. However, given the virus' zoonotic characteristics and predominantly fatal outcome among both cattle and humans, it is extremely important for healthcare practitioners and veterinarians to be aware of the importance of adequate wound hygiene and postexpositional rabies prophylaxis when dealing with both wild and domestic animal bites.
Animals Cattle Cattle Diseasesepidemiology Costa Ricaepidemiology Disease Outbreaksveterinary Endemic Diseasesveterinary Humans Population Surveillance Rabiesepidemiologyveterinary