First fatal rabies case for decade

Man died in hospital in Île-de-France after contracting the disease while in Mali

3 April 2014

A MAN has died in an Île-de-France hospital in France’s first confirmed fatal case of rabies since 2003.

The man died in intensive care yesterday after contracting the disease in Mali, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said.

Rabies, a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain, is spread to humans from animals, usually via a bite or scratch.

The last time the disease was contracted in France was in 1924, the ministry said.

Since 1970, 20 cases of the disease have been identified in France, having been contracted abroad.

Across Europe, cases of rabies in humans is extremely rare. Even in domestic pets, an average of only one case is reported a year.

But, according to World Health Organisation figures, the disease kills 55,000 people a year in Africa and Asia.

After the diagnosis was confirmed, on April 2, authorities have worked to identify anyone the victim had been in contact with.

Human-to-human transmission of the disease is rare, but officials have taken no chances. No cases of direct human transmission have been identified, but nursing staff and members of the man’s immediate family were offered appropriate treatment, the ministry said.

Last May, it was announced that restrictions on pets travelling within the EU were to be eased after a decade of pet passports saw no increase in instances of rabies.

But in August 2013, two children were vaccinated as a precaution after playing with a dead bat that had the disease.

Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region

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