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Med Mal Infect. 2004 Dec;34(12):551-60.

[Human rabies in France in 2004: update and management].

[Article in French]

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Service de virologie, faculté de médecine, 28, place Henri-Dunant, 63001 Clermont-Ferrand cedex, France.


Twenty people died of rabies in France between 1970 and 2003 (compared to 55,000 yearly worldwide), 80% on returning from Africa. Dogs were the contaminating animals in 90% of the cases and children were the most common victims. The last instance of rabies in a native French animal was reported in 1998. However the illegal importation of animals still poses a risk. The disease is transmitted by saliva, even before the appearance of clinical symptoms, through a bite, scratch, or licks of mucous membranes or broken skin. Person-to-person transmission has only been observed in cases of grafts (cornea). The mean incubation time of 1 to 3 months is long enough to allow passive immunization and vaccination. After its onset, the disease presents as encephalitis or a paralytic syndrome the outcome of which is always fatal. Clinical diagnosis may be difficult in the early stages of the disease. If rabies is suspected, the National Reference Centre is responsible for the sampling and proper transportation of these samples so as to ensure assessment results within 5 days. If stringent hygiene rules are complied to, there is no risk of contamination for those in close contact. Vaccination, which is performed in official rabies centers, is only performed after a diagnosis based on laboratory evidence, and solely for exposed persons or those for whom a reliable history cannot be established (children under 6 years). Prevention is based on information. People traveling abroad, particularly to Africa, are warned not to approach unknown animals (especially dogs) nor to try to import them, and are advised to comply with vaccinal recommendations for travelers, particularly for toddlers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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