A man in France died of rabies after being attacked by a bat according to an autopsy.
Dr Laurent Dacheux, deputy head of the national reference centre for rabies at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, confirmed that this is the first time that this has occurred in 35 years and it is a complete first in France.
The incident took place in the city of Limoges, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department in south-western France.
The man, not named but in his 60s, died of encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. The cause of his death, which took place in August 2019, was unknown.
A partnership set up between the Necker hospital in Paris and the Pasteur Institute, geared towards identifying the causes of undocumented encephalitis cases, led experts to analyse his DNA during a post-mortem.
According to Dr Dacheux: “It was through this retrospective diagnosis that this case came to light. This shows that there are cases of rabies that can be missed.”
He added that it was the first time in 35 years in the world that a case of rabies caused by a European bat has come to light in the very first time in France.
The researcher explained that the last known case in France involved nonflying animals and dated back to 1998. Rabies had officially been eradicated in France in 2001, but the expert told French newspaper 20 Minutes: “This just goes to show that there are cases of rabies that we sometimes miss.”
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