Bat rabies in the United Kingdom

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7490.491 (Published 03 March 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:491
  1. Alan Smith, specialist registrar in public health medicine (alan.smith@hpa.org.uk),
  2. Jill Morris, specialist registrar in public health medicine,
  3. Natasha Crowcroft, consultant epidemiologist
  1. Health Protection Agency, Centre for Infections, London NW9 5HT

    We need to put the risk in context

    Until 2002 the United Kingdom had the luxury of being free of rabies. Worldwide as many as 70 000 deaths occur per year, half of which are in children.1 In 2002 the first death from indigenously acquired rabies occurred in over 100 years. A naturalist and licensed bat handler died, not from classical rabies but from European bat lyssavirus type 2a (EBLV-2), acquired in Scotland.2 European bat lyssaviruses are closely related to the classical rabies virus. Hundreds of these infections have been confirmed in bats in continental Europe, mainly in Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, France, and Spain.3 Most of these isolates were confirmed as EBLV-1 and predominantly associated with the serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus) whereas EBLV-2 seems to be associated with Myotis species—principally the Daubenton's bats (Myotis daubentonii) and pond bats (Myotis dasycneme).

    Passive surveillance for …

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