Translocation of an Anteater (Tamandua Tetradactyla) Infected With Rabies From Virginia to Tennessee Resulting in Multiple Human Exposures, 2021

Heather N. Grome, MD; Jane Yackley, MPH; Dilani Goonewardene, MPH; Andrew Cushing, BVSc; Marcy Souza, DVM; Ariel Carlson; Linden Craig, DVM, PhD; Bryan Cranmore; Ryan Wallace, DVM; Lillian Orciari, MS; Michael Niezgoda, MS; Satheshkumar Panayampalli; Crystal Gigante, PhD; Mary-Margaret Fill, MD; Timothy Jones, MD; William Schaffner, MD; John Dunn, DVM, PhD


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2022;71(15):533-537. 

In This Article

Public Health Investigation

TDH developed an assessment tool to identify persons potentially exposed to the tamandua during the rabies viral shedding period, defined as 14 days before onset of clinical signs (June 16) through the date of death (July 6)[2] or involvement in necropsy after death. All 22 persons identified with potential exposure completed the risk assessment. rPEP was recommended to 13 persons for nonbite exposures to the animal's tongue and saliva (tamanduas do not have teeth). Seven persons received this recommendation either because of known or presumed exposure to saliva or because of the inability to determine if saliva was introduced to a scratch or open skin wound. Six persons received this recommendation because of potential exposure attributable to aerosolization of brain tissue, because barrier protection was limited to latex gloves and laboratory gowns during removal of brain tissue using an oscillating saw; rPEP was recommended to persons who operated the saw, other persons <10 feet from the saw, and anyone not confident of where they were in the room when the calvarium was breached. Among the 13 persons for whom rPEP was recommended, all agreed to receive it. No human rabies cases have been reported to date. This activity was reviewed by CDC and was conducted consistent with applicable federal law and CDC policy.*

The other tamandua at the Tennessee zoo enclosure was presumed to be unvaccinated because rabies vaccination records could not be located. This animal received rabies vaccine, and the zoo owner was advised to strictly quarantine it for 6 months, in concordance with the 2016 Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control.[2] The Virginia zoo was notified regarding concerns about rabid raccoons on the property. The owner of this zoo confirmed that native wildlife was present inside the fencing perimeter. As of April 1, 2022, no additional cases of rabies related to this tamandua were identified in Virginia or in Tennessee.

*45 C.F.R. part 46.102(l)(2), 21 C.F.R. part 56; 42 U.S.C. Sect. 241(d); 5 U.S.C. Sect. 552a; 44 U.S.C. Sect. 3501 et seq.