A human case of rabies was reported by the Institut de
Veille Sanitaire on 22 October 2003, in a three year old child who was admitted
to hospital with encephalitis in the Lyon region, in the east of France. The
child was very likely infected in August 2003, when he played with unvaccinated
dogs during a visit to Gabon.
All the child’s contacts were informed by the local health authorities
in the Rhône, and have had individual medical care at the antirabies
centre in Lyon, in order to evaluate the necessity of antirabies vaccination.
These measures were taken as a precaution since the risk of transmission
cannot be completely excluded for those in close contact with the child,
including the healthcare workers who treated him. However, no transmission
between humans has ever been reported outside of a very few cases by corneal
Since 1977, 19 cases of rabies have been seen in humans in France, all
of whom contracted their infection in endemic areas outside France. The
last authochthonous case in France was seen in 1924. This is a useful reminder
that rabies cases continue to be imported into Europe from the many countries
where rabies is still endemic in the animal population.