In August 2019, a sexagenarian died of rabies in Haute-Vienne after being bitten or scratched by a bat.
An extremely rare case
A man died on August 29, 2019, at Limoges CHU after being scratched or bitten by a bat. The 60-year-old was hospitalized in July 2019 and fell into a coma before losing his life.
The patient suffered from inflammation of the brain inexplicable, thus requiring further analysis. Thanks to a partnership with the Institut Pasteur, the genetic samples taken post-mortems revealed a European Bat LyssaVirus de type 1 (EBLV-1) or European bat lyssavirus 1. It is one of the three virus-like agents of the rage. “We had never had such a case. This is the first time that this has happened in mainland France. It’s been 35 years since it happened globally“, admitted Laurent Dacheux, deputy head of the national reference center for rabies at the Institut Pasteur.
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Rabies, officially eradicated in France
Since 2001, the rage is a disease officially eradicated in France. According to Mr. Dacheux, the last case on non-flying animals dates back to 1998. However, bats are the main transmitters in France. “The risk is known and under control. But the general population is not vaccinated against rabies. You should therefore avoid touching a bat if it is on the ground. If you are bitten, you must go to a vaccination center immediately. The virus can then be eliminated before it reaches the central nervous system“, advised the scientist.
The problem is still the absence of symptoms, because if the virus reaches the brain, death is assured, specifies Laurent Dacheux.
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