Rabies found in Belgium

26th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 October 2007, BRUSSELS (AFP) - Belgian authorities have identified the first case of rabies since the country was declared rabies-free in 2001, the country's food agency announced Thursday.

26 October 2007

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Belgian authorities have identified the first case of rabies since the country was declared rabies-free in 2001, the country's food agency announced Thursday.

A labrador-mix dog, which lived in a family home in the southern Brussels suburb of Beersel, was destroyed last Friday after displaying symptoms of the disease which was subsequently confirmed by laboratory testing, the federal agency for food chain safety said.

A second dog which lived in the same house was also destroyed and tests are pending.

A crisis meeting of scientists and public health experts was held late Thursday and issued a series of precautionary measures.

Anyone who thinks they may have come in contact with the animal should inform their doctor, they said.

All dogs in the area must be kept on leads even when they venture further afield and owners are advised to vaccinate all dogs and cats in the area as soon as possible, especially as the vaccine takes three weeks to work.

Belgium recorded its last case of rabies in 1999 and was declared rabies-free two years later. The Belgian authorities stressed that the infected animal had been illegally brought into the country from Morocco recently.

The family involved have all been tested and vaccinated against rabies and the food agency and other authorities are seeking to contact anyone who may have come in contact with the dog, described as looking like a black labrador.

"We can't say we will test every fox, dog or rat in the neighbourhood," Jooris told AFP.

"But we have set up a telephone number and we hope people will contact us if they think they may have come into contact with the infected dog."

Rabies can be transmitted to humans through animal bites and is nearly always fatal for those who have not been vaccinated.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. Symptoms include fever and headache and can progress to partial paralysis, hallucinations and fear of water.
Death usually occurs within days of the symptoms appearing.

The World Health Organisation estimates that between 40,000 and 70,000 people die from rabies each year, with most in south and southeast Asia.

[Copyright AFP 2007]

Subject: Belgian news

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