This report describes some epidemiological aspects of a rabies epizootic that started in 1995 in the urban area of Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil, and discusses its main causes. All laboratory confirmed cases were described according to a set of epidemiological variables. Simultaneously, information was raised concerning rabies vaccine coverage and epidemiological surveillance activities. In addition to one human case, 58 rabid animals were confirmed in 1995 (54 dogs, 3 cats. and 1 bat). There were 20 cases in 1996 (18 dogs and 2 cats). Geographical distribution was uneven in the city, with higher concentrations observed in the Western, Northern, and Southwestern sections, corresponding to the poorest areas. No seasonal variation was observed. The main reasons for the epizootic were low rabies vaccine coverage in animals and severe failures in epidemiological surveillance activities in the years immediately prior to 1995. This epizootic illustrates the risk of neglecting such activities, even in a city with a reasonably good health system, located in one of the most economically developed areas of the country. Vigorous preventive measures markedly reduced the number of cases.
Rabies; Zoonoses; Epidemiology