Rabies: Prevention and vaccination

The best prevention of a rabies infection is to avoid any contact with an animal potentially carrying the rabies virus . In general, it is best to avoid touching bats (or only wearing gloves) to protect against rabies virus infection.

Another means of prevention is vaccination against rabies . In France, the risk of infection is extremely low at present. Therefore, a rabies virus preventive vaccination is only recommended in the following cases :

1) before an extended (or repeated) trip to a high-risk rabies region : rabies vaccination is recommended when the risk of contact with the rabies virus during travel is high (eg risk of transmission by stray dogs during a trek).
2) in case of increased occupational risk, ie when:

  • you are in contact with animals in the course of your work (for example: veterinarian, animal keeper, animal keeper, ranger or hunter) and that rabies has reappeared in your area.
  • you are in contact with bats for professional reasons (or others).
  • you work in a lab handling rabies viruses.

The vaccine is given as 3 injections spread over 4 weeks. The first booster vaccine is recommended one year later, then every 5 years.

Note: vaccination does not protect 100% against rabies, and does not exempt treatment (curative vaccination) in case of potential contamination.

There is another measure of prevention, quite little applied in France (it must be recognized): in case of bite by a dog, the owner of the dog must be able to show the vaccination book of the dog . In case of severe bite, the animal should not be slaughtered, but will be examined by a veterinarian. The law states that the dog bite is seen by a veterinarian 2 days, then 8 and 15 days after the bite, and ensures that the animal does not develop any symptoms of rabies.

In France, vaccination of rabies is not mandatory in cats and dogs (unless in the region where these animals live rabies has been detected in wild animals). Only dogs in category 1 and 2 (considered more aggressive or even dangerous, such as Pitbulls and aparent).

As prevention, it is also essential to limit the spread of the disease among wild and domestic animals: effective measures such as fox immunization (with vaccine baits) have largely controlled rabies in France.

The risk of re-emerging rabies in France is very low today. However, it is difficult to assess the risk of introducing rabies through the illegal importation of animals from rabies risk areas (such as the Republic of Belarus, Bosnia, Croatia or Turkey).

Warning : by importing an animal not (or insufficiently) vaccinated against rabies from a country where rabies is not controlled, you endanger your own life, as well as that of all people in contact with the rabies. animal. At the same time, you risk annihilating all the measures taken for years to control rabies in France.

Read also :

  • Bite by a dog: what to do?
  • Small wound, scratch
  • Why get vaccinated?
  • Vaccine: how does it work? (video)

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