Rabies is one of those unfortunate diseases that could basically be wiped off the face of the earth if the funding and man-power existed to do it.

Rabies is in the wildlife in many parts of the world. Every mammal can carry it. It's not going away any time soon. Bats and skunks get most of the rap, but it certainly isn't confined to them.

I used to work for a veterinarian in SoCal who was working in the Yuba City, CA area when they had a massive outbreak of it. It was in the dogs, cats, horses, rodents, everything.

Until a way is found to vaccinate every animal, I would say it's going to continue.

Rabies-free countries

Cut down the odds and make sure ALL your pets are vaccinated against it (not just the outdoor ones). If your pet bites someone and it was never vaccinated against rabies, SOP is usually to euthanize the animal immediately and check its brain. If the pet was ever vaccinated, it is usually just quarantined. He was your favorite dog? Too bad.

And teach your kids not to grab every nearby animal, domestic or wild, and report every wild animal that is acting strange (too friendly or oddly aggressive, showing no fear).

From VetMed - Rabies
"How will I know if an animal is rabid?

"The only conclusive way to know if an animal is (was) rabid is to identify the virus in brain tissue after the animal is dead. Given that rabies infects the brain it can cause a variety of clinical signs. There are two forms of rabies: dumb and furious. Dumb rabies is observed as animals that are too docile. They are not affectionate, but they will not run from humans. Wild animals normally avoid human contact so if a wild animal does not seem cautious when you approach it, it may be rabid. The other form of rabies, furious rabies, is more commonly seen. This is the stereotypical rabid animal that is vicious and will attack with out provocation. Foaming at the mouth and excessive saliva are not always present! If a mammal acts unusually aggressive, or displays any bizarre behavior, it may be rabid."

And if you think an animal is rabid and you have a gun handy, for pete's sake don't shoot it in the head! The only way to check for rabies is to check the brain, but that isn't going to happen if you've splattered it all over the shrubbery. And then call your local Health Department.