In 1977, rabid raccoons were first detected in West Virginia. It is believed that rabies was present in raccoons imported from Florida into West Virginia by hunters in the 1970s. The disease then spread to other raccoons after they were released. Once raccoon rabies was established in West Virginia and Virginia, it spread at a rate of approximately 25 to 50 miles per year into Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, and Pennsylvania. This rabies epizootic spread into New Jersey through Warren and Hunterdon counties in October 1989. The raccoon rabies epizootic now extends throughout New England and as far west as Ohio, and south into North Carolina. Note: an epizootic is a term used to denote an epidemic of the disease in an animal population).