Rabies - Bulletin - Europe

WHO Collaborating Centre for Rabies Surveillance & Research

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Re-emergence of rabies in Bosnia Herzegovina

After more than six years of absence of rabies in Bosnia-Herzegovina a new case in a dog was detected.
The non-vaccinated animal was euthanized in the municipality of Potočari, Srebrenica, 6 km from the
border to Serbia on 28th May 2020 because of clinical signs suggestive of rabies. One day later rabies
was laboratory confirmed. While illegal importation of the animal can be excluded, contact with infected
wildlife is to be presumed. Genetic characterization of the rabies virus strain is pending. The documented

Jefferson scientists develop dual SARS CoV-2-rabies vaccine

In the global race for a SARS CoV-2 vaccine, scientists at Thomas Jefferson University are working on an
approach that will utilize an existing rabies vaccine as a carrier for the SARS-CoV-2 antigen by taking
advantage of the benefit that the ‘carrier’ vaccine has already been rigorously tested and shown to be safe
and effective. Next to fighting the current SARS CoV-2 pandemic, this dual vaccine candidate may do its
part in solving another serious public health problem in African and Asian countries – ending human
dog-mediated rabies by 2030.

Way to new rabies vaccines?

In an attempt to prevent the rabies virus from shutting down vital defense responses in the immune system,
researchers at Monash University and the University of Melbourne believe they are the first to observe how
a particular protein made by the rabies virus binds to a critical cellular protein known as signal transducer
and activator of transcription 1, halting key parts of the immune response. Whether the discovery could
lead to the development of new rabies vaccines must be demonstrated.

Tripartite meeting emphasized commitment to eliminate rabies by 2030

Representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World
Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and WHO held a meeting at the OIE headquarter, Paris,
12-13 February 2020 to discuss how the tripartite can further collaborate with the global rabies community
through the 'United Against Rabies' (UAR) forum. As a result, a new job position of a Global Rabies
Coordinator was established and published, who will contribute to the UAR collaboration work by

France reports imported rabid dog

Rabies has been confirmed in dog from the municipality of Saint-Martin-de-Ré located at the French
Atlantic coast in February this year. There is reason to believe the dog must have contracted the infection
abroad because partial sequencing identified the rabies virus belonging to lineage Africa 1 that does not
circulate in Europe. While the owner confirmed having travelled with the dog outside Europe, the possible
site of infection is not known yet. The degree of sequence identity, however, suggest a very close genetic

Three imported human rabies cases reported from Europe within the last three months

As of 5 December 2019, after 16 years of absence, a human case was reported from Latvia. The infection
is likely to have been acquired during a visit to Asia. Another human rabies happened to occur in
November this year in Italy, where a man died after being exposed to a suspect rabid dogs during a
on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania. As of 10 December there seems to have been a new report of a
human rabies in Spain case ex Morocco. These tragic human case fatalities underline the need of travel
advice relating to rabies.

Read more here:

Raccoon rabies and control in the US featured in National Geographic

The massive effort to tackle one of America’s greatest rabies threats – raccoon rabies – was recently
featured in the September issue 2019 of National Geographic. The inspiring article gives insights into the
National Rabies Management Program, the largest coordinated effort to control a zoonotic disease in
wildlife populations ever undertaken in the U.S. 

Read more here: Link

Canadian man died of rabies after bat exposure

A few days ago a young Canadian citizen died of bat associated rabies after a bat flew into him outdoors
on Vancouver Island, in daylight. Supposedly, the man had no visible bite or scratch marks and did not
develop symptoms linked to rabies until six weeks later. Unfortunately, he did not seek post-exposure
prophylaxis. The spillover rate of bat associated rabies to humans and animals is considered high
compared to other parts of the world. In Canada, there have been only 24 known cases since the 1920s,
with the most recent in Ontario in 2012 and Alberta in 2007.


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