Rabies is a fatal viral disease of animals that can also be transmitted to humans. Although it attacks primarily the central nervous system, infective particles are present in the saliva of rabid animals. Thus, it is most frequently transmitted by an animal bite, which injects the virus into the new host. About 35,000 cases a year are reported worldwide, all of them fatal, as there is no cure once symptoms develop. However, because of an effective vaccination program for dogs, cats, and other at-risk domestic animals and the availability of a vaccine for people bitten by wild animals or unvaccinated pets, there are typically fewer than five cases per year in the United States.
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