EU-wide rabies alert over infected dog in France

30th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, Aug 28 (AFP) - The European Commission issued an EU-wide rabies alert Saturday after a dog was found carrying the deadly disease in southwest France, where hundreds of thousands of tourists have spent the summer holidays.

BRUSSELS, Aug 28 (AFP) - The European Commission issued an EU-wide rabies alert Saturday after a dog was found carrying the deadly disease in southwest France, where hundreds of thousands of tourists have spent the summer holidays.  

The EU executive took the rare step warning all European Union (EU) governments, to ensure that recently-returned holidaymakers were aware of the case, in particular visitors to a number of local festivals this month.  

"Anyone having had contacts with that dog should consult his/her doctor to be treated appropriately. If not treated in time rabies is fatal," said the EU executive, which issued the alert via its EU Early Warning and Response System.  

French authorities said they were urgently hunting for seven people who may have been infected after contact with the dog.  

Six people in the city of Bordeaux have been vaccinated following the discovery, local officials in the department of Gironde said late Saturday.  

"More than anything, we are appealing very urgently to a jogger who was bitten on August 18 or 19 on the right bank of the Garonne" near a restaurant, official Bertrand Gaume told reporters.  

The risk of infection was heightened because the dog was infectious for nearly three weeks from the start of August until it died a week ago, Brussels said.  

"The problem here is it has been a very long time and the owner has been with his dog to many of these festivals where lots of tourists are," said Commission spokeswoman Beate Gminder.  

The four-month-old dog was infectious from August 2-21, the Commission said, detailing dates and locations where the dog had been, including Bordeaux and a number of festivals in the Dordogne, Gironde and Lot and Garonne departments.  

Since the alarm was raised on Friday, 55 people have contacted an emergency centre set up at the local administration.  

Rabies - a fatal disease which attacks the nervous system and can paralyze the entire body - is transmitted to people by dogs, cats, livestock and certain wild animals and birds.  

Since 1977, 19 cases of human rabies have been reported in France. All of those infected contracted the disease abroad. The Commission spokeswoman said there were on average one to three rabies cases in the EU per year.  

The rabid puppy was reportedly brought into France on July 11 by a resident of Bordeaux, the French agriculture and health ministries said, urging anyone believing themselves at risk to come forward.  

The dog was imported illegally from Morocco, said the Commission. She said there was no question of the dog having entered the EU under currently-changing EU rules for pets travelling between EU countries.   

The EU is in the process of introducing an EU-wide Pet Passport scheme, but is applying transitional arrangements this summer until October 1 when only the EU document will be valid.   

"This is a classic fraud case" of a dog imported illegally from a non-EU country, and has nothing to do with the new EU rules, said the Commission spokeswoman.  

The dog's owner faces up to two years in prison and a fine of EUR 15,000 for importing the dog illegally. A prosecutor in Bordeaux is working on the case.  

Brussels hopes EU governments will also publicize the case. "We hope the other member states issue (warnings) for all the tourists who might have been there," she said.  

More information on the dog was available on the following website: http://www.invs.sante.fr/display/?doc=presse/2004/communiques/rageï270804, the Brussels Commission said.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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