Extremely rare case of bat rabies death in France


Most bats don’t have rabies. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even among bats tested for rabies, only about 6% had rabies. Rabies can only be confirmed in a lab, but any bat that is active during the day or is in an area where bats are not usually seen such as in your home or on your lawn or attic could be rabid. . A weak bat unable to fly could be ill.

A man died of rabies in Limoges, in central southwest France, most likely after being bitten or scratched by a bat, as the Institut Pasteur recently reported. This is a first in mainland France. In their sixties, they died of encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain of unexplained origin, in August 2019. A partnership established between the Necker hospital and the Institut Pasteur, aimed at identifying the causes of undocumented encephalitis, led to the genetic analysis of post-mortem samples. These analyzes at the Necker hospital in Paris showed that he had contracted a lyssavirus, European Bat LyssaVirus type 1 (EBLV-1), safe from bats.

“It shows that there are cases of rabies that we can miss”

“It is thanks to this retrospective diagnosis that this case was brought to light. This shows that there are cases of rabies that can go unnoticed, ”explains Laurent Dacheux, deputy director of the national reference center for rabies at the Institut Pasteur.

“The trace of this virus was identified at that time, in November 2020. In the midst of the coronavirus, and this discovery went unnoticed”, continues Laurent Dacheux. This exceptional case was finally mentioned in a popular science article on the Mesvaccins.net site and highlighted by the regional daily. The People of the Center .

In contact with bats

“It has been thirty-five years since a death of this type occurred in the world. And in mainland France, this is a first, ”assures Laurent Dacheux.

In 2019, a 21-year-old man died of rabies after coming into contact with a bat on Vancouver Island, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Health official Bonnie Henry confirmed the man came into contact with a rabid bat in mid-May, started showing symptoms six weeks later and died in July 2019.

Why don’t people get the rabies vaccine?

Rabies is a fatal disease. Each year, tens of thousands of people are protected from developing rabies through vaccination after being bitten by an animal such as a bat that may have rabies.

In some cases, people who died from rabies knew they had been bitten by a bat. They did not go to a doctor for medical help because they did not know that bats can have rabies and transmit it by bite. In other cases, it is also possible that young children will not fully wake up due to the presence of a bat (or a bite) or not report a bite to their parents. Most bats have small teeth that can leave marks that can quickly disappear.

Which animals can be infected with rabies?

Any mammal can contract rabies. Rabies is most commonly reported in mammals that tend to come into contact with humans or live near human settlements, including bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Rabies has also been reported in deer, groundhogs, mongooses, opossums, coyotes, wolves and monkeys. Pets and pets that are mammals can easily contract the disease if they are bitten by another animal that is already infected. Cases in pets and other domestic animals have been reported in dogs, cats, cows, horses and rabbits.

If you are bitten by an animal – or if infectious material (such as saliva) from an animal gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or wound – it is important to wash the affected area well with soap and water and seek medical attention. at once. If possible, the animal should be captured and sent to a laboratory for rabies testing.


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