Rabies in Texas

There is one variant of rabies prevalent in terrestrial animals in Texas-- the south central skunk variant (SCS). This variant is maintained by intra-species (within the host species) transmission with occasional spillover to both domestic and other wild animals. The raccoon rabies variant that is prevalent on the east coast of the United States is not currently found in Texas, but raccoons do get infected as a result of spillover from the skunk epizootic. Distinct rabies virus variants are found in insectivorous bats in multiple independent reservoirs of bat species.

The DDC strain of rabies appeared along the Texas-Mexico border in 1989, and quickly became established in both coyotes and dogs in the area. This canine epizootic spread throughout south Texas by the end of 1994, but has since been eliminated from the state. Fox rabies (TF) was nonexistent prior to 1945 in Texas. It first appeared in the eastern part of Texas in 1946 and moved toward west Texas. The epizootic died out in the eastern part of the state and became enzootic in southwest Texas during 1970-1980 period. In 1987-1988, the epizootic reoccurred and began expanding north and east. By the end of 1994, fox rabies had spread throughout west central Texas. In 1994-1995, the Oral Rabies Vaccination Program (ORVP), which had shown success in Canada and Europe against fox rabies, was initiated to combat the canine rabies epizootic in south Texas and fox rabies epizootic in west central Texas. Texas also periodically experiences outbreaks of south central skunk (SCS).


  • Animal rabies is endemic in Texas.
  • The majority of the animals tested for rabies in Texas are dogs and cats that are submitted for rabies testing because of their aggressive behavior and/or exposure to humans or pets.
  • Wild animals such as bats, skunks, foxes, and coyotes are still the primary reservoirs of rabies.
  • The ORVP  has resulted in the elimination of rabies positive coyotes in south Texas and a decrease in rabies positive foxes in west central Texas.
  • Educating the public to avoid contact with wild animals, especially dead and downed bats, will prevent human or pet exposure.


Last updated October 17, 2014