The Nebraska Rabies Program within the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services routinely tests wildlife suspected of having rabies that have been in contact with humans.
In the past decade, more than 50% of skunks tested were positive for the skunk-variant rabies. Small numbers of raccoons in Nebraska, are infected with skunk-variant rabies.
Nebraska DHHS is now working with local, state, and federal agencies to respond to a raccoon rabies variant identified in a kitten in Omaha, Neb. The collaborative effort will employ enhanced rabies surveillance to test animals that were found dead, often for unknown reasons. Only 1% of such animals typically test positive for rabies. Due to the low detection rate for enhanced rabies surveillance, this response anticipates the need to test several hundred samples in the Omaha metro area to determine if there is community spread of the raccoon rabies variant.