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Brussels, 28 August 2004

Rabies: Possible exposure of humans in South West France

The European Commission has alerted the Member States about the possibility of exposure of citizens to a dog with rabies in South West France during the month of August. The information has been circulated through the EU Early Warning and Response System after an alert by the French Health Authorities in the evening of 27 August. The dog which has been imported illegally into France has had numerous contacts with people in different places that attract during August many foreign tourists. Anyone having had contacts with that dog should consult his/her doctor to be treated appropriately. If not treated in time rabies is fatal.

The dog is a female aged 4 months, approximately 50 cm high, neither short nor long haired, brown/apricot color with a black muzzle, long tail and floppy ears. During the period in which the dog was infectious (2 August – 21 August) it has been in contact with numerous persons and animals in the South West of France and specifically the following:

Départment Gironde: Bordeaux centre : 03/08/04-21/08/04

Département Gironde: Hostens: 02/08/04

Département Dordogne: Périgueux, Mimos Festiva : 05/08/04

Département Lot et Garonne: Miramont de Guyenne: street theatre festival : 07/08/04-08/08/04

Département Gironde: Libourne: music festival « Fest’Art »: 12/08/04-14/08/04

A picture of the dog and more information can be found at:


Rabies is a viral infection transmitted by the saliva of infected mammals. The virus enters the central nervous system of the host, causing an encephalomyelitis (infection of the central nervous system) that is almost always fatal.

There is no treatment for rabies after symptoms of the disease appear. However, an effective rabies vaccine regimen that provides immunity to rabies when administered after an exposure (post exposure prophylaxis) exists. Post exposure prophylaxis is indicated for persons possibly exposed to a rabid animal.

Possible exposures include animal bites, or mucous membrane contamination with infectious tissue, such as saliva. Post exposure prophylaxis should begin as soon as possible after an exposure. Rabies can be prevented when post exposure prophylaxis is given promptly and appropriately after an exposure. The important factor is that people exposed to potential rabid animals seek care promptly after the exposure.

The EU Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) is a telematic system linking the European Commission and the competent authority in Member States responsible for measures for the control of communicable diseases and has already proven to be a very useful tool during a number of outbreak and incidents (SARS, avian influenza, etc).

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