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Home Eurosurveillance Weekly Release  2003: Volume 7/ Issue 33 Article 2
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Eurosurveillance, Volume 7, Issue 33, 14 August 2003
Articles

Citation style for this article: Zanoni R. Rabies in a puppy in Nyon, Switzerland. Euro Surveill. 2003;7(33):pii=2274. Available online: http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=2274

Rabies in a puppy in Nyon, Switzerland

Reto Zanoni (reto.zanoni@ivv.unibe.ch) and Urs Breitenmoser, Institute of Veterinary Virology, Bern, Switzerland

In May 2003, an abandoned puppy of unknown origin, a few weeks of age, was found on a road and brought to an animal shelter in the canton of Geneva, Switzerland. On 25 June, the dog was adopted by a family living in the canton of Vaud, and began to show neurological symptoms on 15 July. Because of the progressive course combined with aggressive behaviour, the dog was euthanised on 19 July and submitted for laboratory analysis on 21 July. Rabies was confirmed in the dog by direct immunofluorescence on 24 July.

In Switzerland the last indigenous case of rabies in a dog was linked to fox rabies and was diagnosed in December 1996. There was no history of international travel or importation from abroad in this case. In 1997, rabies was found in a dog imported from Morocco. Before that, rabies cases in dogs were rarely observed, and were single spillover cases from sylvatic rabies. Rabies was epizootic from 1967 to 1996 (Table), but due to the mandatory vaccination of all dogs aged over 5 months, dogs represented only a minority (4.2%) of all cases observed in domestic animals during that time. According to post-vaccination surveillance of wildlife rabies in Europe as defined by the World Health Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE, http://www.oie.int/), Switzerland has officially been free of terrestrial rabies since early 1999 (1, 2). Since then, no rabies cases have been observed apart from a case in a bat (European Bat Lyssavirus) detected in September 2002. This was only the third rabies case diagnosed in a bat in Switzerland since the emergence of bat rabies in Europe in the 1980s (3, 4, 5). Bat rabies is an important though minor residual rabies risk, which persists in the absence of terrestrial rabies (6).

The most likely origin of the current case in the puppy is illegal importation from a region of the world with urban rabies. Characterisation of the viral strain is under way. This case underlines the importance of risk minimisation by new regulations for the cross-border transport of dogs (vaccinate, serologically test, and observe). These have already been implemented in several European countries and more countries will implement them in the near future (7-9). This is of particular importance in view of the recent and future expansion of the European Union into areas where rabies control was of lower priority than in Western Europe. At the same time, strong support for effective rabies control in terrestrial mammals throughout the European region will be crucial, as it is impossible to prevent foxes from crossing national borders.

Table. Summary of rabies cases in animals in Switzerland before, during and after rabies elimination in foxes. Source: Swiss Rabies Center (http://www.cx.unibe.ch/ivv/Swiss_Rabies_Center/swiss_rabies_center.html)

Year Dogs Other domestic Fox Other wildlife Bats Total
1967 0 5 180 16 0 201
1968 2 43 445 72 0 562
1969 1 20 295 42 0 358
1970 3 13 231 30 0 277
1971 2 20 261 36 0 319
1972 1 17 434 95 0 547
1973 2 41 620 94 0 757
1974 2 79 730 102 0 913
1975 5 91 1335 184 0 1615
1976 9 270 1263 190 0 1732
1977 8 195 721 106 0 1030
1978 7 243 680 123 0 1053
1979 6 178 988 199 0 1371
1980 12 182 833 166 0 1193
1981 6 217 678 141 0 1042
1982 8 210 652 131 0 1001
1983 4 203 629 103 0 939
1984 13 138 492 93 0 736
1985 2 57 208 34 0 301
1986 1 32 62 25 0 120
1987 1 8 85 5 0 99
1988 1 11 77 6 0 95
1989 0 2 56 2 0 60
1990 0 1 24 0 0 25
1991 0 2 95 8 0 105
1992 0 5 103 18 1 127
1993 1 16 143 14 1 175
1994 2 23 167 33 0 225
1995 0 3 11 9 0 23
1996 1 3 1 1 0 6
1997 1 0 0 0 0 1
1998 0 0 0 0 0 0
1999 0 0 0 0 0 0
2000 0 0 0 0 0 0
2001 0 0 0 0 0 0
2002 0 0 0 0 1 1
2003 1 0 0 0 0 1
Total 102 2328 12499 2078 3 17010*

* Minor differences in the number of cases published elsewhere are due to different inclusion criteria.

References:
  1. Zanoni RG, Kappeler A, Müller UM, Müller C, Wandeler AI, Breitenmoser U. Tollwutfreiheit der Schweiz nach 30 Jahren Fuchstollwut [in German]. (Rabies free status of Switzerland after 30 years rabies in foxes). Schweizer Archiv fuer Tierheilkunde 2000; 142: 423-9.
  2. Breitenmoser U, Müller U, Kappeler A, Zanoni RG. Die Endphase der Tollwut in der Schweiz [in German]. (The final phase of the rabies epizootic in Switzerland). Schweizer Archiv fuer Tierheilkunde 2000; 142: 447-54.
  3. Kappeler A. First case of rabies in a bat in Switzerland. Rabies Bulletin Europe 1992; 16: 11.
  4. Müller WW. Review of reported rabies case data in Europe to the WHO collaborationg centre Tübingen from 1977 to 1996. Rabies Bulletin Europe 1996; 20: 11-8.
  5. Breitenmoser U, Zanoni R. Tollwütige Fledermaus in Genf [in German]. (Rabid bat in Geneva). Bulletin des Bundesamtes fuer Gesundheitswesen 2002; (40), 697-8.
  6. Arai YT, Kuzmin IV, Kameoka Y, Botvinkin AD. New lyssavirus genotype from the lesser mouse-eared bat (Myotis blythi), Kyrghyzstan. Emerg Infect Dis 2003; 9: 333-7.
  7. Klingeborn B, Krogsrud J. Vaccination and antibody testing replacing quarantine as rabies safety measure for transfer of dogs and cats into Sweden and Norway from EU/EFTA-countries. Rabies Bulletin Europe 1993; 17: 13-4.
  8. Müller WW. United Kingdom (UK) - quarantine for rabies and intended new pet travel scheme. Rabies Bulletin Europe 1999; 23: 12-3. (http://www.who-rabies-bulletin.org/q2_1999/4.2.html).
  9. Bundesamt für Veterinärwesen. Neue Einfuhrbedingungen für Hunde und Katzen [in German, French, and Italian]. (New specifications for the importation of dogs and cats). Mitteilungen des Bundesamtes für Veterinärwesen 2003; 13, 200-1. (http://www.bvet.admin.ch/aktuell/d/bulletin/2003/13_einfuhr.pdf)

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