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Rabies Surveillance Network


The Rabies Surveillance Network (RSN) is an electronic surveillance system that provides essential information on animal rabies occurrence for states and partnering organizations needed for timely prevention and control and has integrated data sharing among local, state, and federal agencies for strategic responses to outbreaks. The primary goal is to expand electronic reporting of enhanced data to replace limited data collection currently available via the Nationally Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
Data Years Available: 
Mode of Collection: 
Surveillance data: active and passive data collection.
Selected Content: 
RSN collects detailed information on all animals tested for rabies, such as the species, vaccination status, human or animal exposures, detailed location information, and rabies virus variant information, when available. A web-based mapping application has also been developed to permit mapping and data access by participating state health department personnel.
Population Covered: 
State Public Health Laboratories, State Agricultural Laboratories, University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, and USDA / Wildlife Services

RSN consists of enhanced surveillance via a new comprehensive GIS-based real-time system that collects passive and active surveillance data for animal rabies and provides a portal for national rabies surveillance which allows for rabies case mapping and integrated data sharing among local, state, and federal agencies for strategic responses to outbreaks and national oral rabies vaccination programs. Data are
collected through the Public Helath Laboratory Information System (PHLIS) and all states are expected to have implemented electronic messaging by 2010 in order to reach the goal of implementation in 52 Public Health Departments (which will include Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and New York City, but not Hawaii which is rabies-free).

Response Rates and Sample Size: 

In 2010, eight states (GA, MA, MD, MI, ND, VA, VT, and WV) were using RSN via the Public Health Laboratory Information System (PHLIS). Weekly data uploads are received from the 8 states that have implemented data transmission in PHLIS. For states that have not implemented electronic messaging, data are
collected monthly or annually. The goal is to add 2-5 states per year sending enhanced information, depending on the implementation of electronic messaging systems.

Interpretation Issues: 

Blanton JD, Robertson K, Palmer D, Rupprecht CE. Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2008. JAVMA. 2009; 235(6):676-89.

Blanton JD, Manangan A, Manangan J, Hanlon CA, Slate D, Rupprecht CE. Development of a GIS-based, real-time, Internet mapping tool for rabies surveillance. I J Health Geog. 2006; 5:47.