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Rabies in Europe: An epidemiological and clinical update

Published:April 29, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2021.04.010

      Highlights

      • Rabies is a neglected tropical disease with a significant mortality burden.
      • Vaccination campaigns in wildlife animals achieved the control of rabies in Europe.
      • Rabies cases are still reported in Europe as imported cases.
      • Clinical suspicion is crucial to reach a diagnosis also in atypical manifestations.

      Abstract

      Rabies is a vaccine preventable zoonotic disease with a significant mortality burden worldwide. Several years of vaccination campaigns in wildlife animals have now achieved the control of rabies in Western Europe through a vaccination belt in front of endemic Eastern European countries. Nevertheless, rabies could be imported both by travellers from areas without an active public control of the disease or by animals coming from areas where the virus circulates in wildlife fauna. The knowledge of the current world epidemiology combined with a high index of clinical suspicion are needed to reach a diagnosis of rabies, especially in case of atypical presentation or without a history of animal exposure. The pre-travel counselling to people visiting highly endemic areas is essential to give information on how to reduce exposure to potential sources of infection and to select those subjects who could benefit from pre-travel vaccination. Rabies is almost invariably fatal, but the prompt administration of a vaccine course combined with anti-rabies immunoglobulins significantly reduces the probability to develop life-threatening consequences. In this review, we give a brief epidemiological and clinical update about rabies in Europe.

      Graphical abstract

      Keywords

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