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Tracking Hospital-Reported Rabies Exposures Helped Ensure Residents Received Potentially Life-Saving Medications

The number of rabies exposures reported to CCDPH for investigation and follow up doubled in 2016, from 25 percent to over 50 percent in 2016, after the health department began using ESSENCE, a system that monitors emergency room activity to assist with surveillance. CCDPH actively searched hospital ER records for high-risk rabies exposures and then contacted hospitals that did not report them to the health department. This method, combined with education efforts with hospital staff, resulted in a 267 percent increase in the total number of hospital-reported rabies exposures in 2016, and helped ensure residents received potentially life-saving PEP.


Hospitals and health care providers are required to report rabies exposures to the health department.

Infection with the rabies virus is nearly 100% fatal without a series of shots called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent illness and death. In Illinois, most PEP is administered in an emergency room (ER). Hospitals and providers are required to report rabies exposures to the health department so communicable disease investigators can make sure PEP is administered according to CDC recommendations and the

In 2017, CCDPH continues to detect and investigate high-risk rabies exposures and work with hospitals and providers to improve reporting.

For more information on rabies and PEP, please visit .

Updated January 24, 2019, 10:15 AM