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The Spanish authorities have notified the Commission of a new outbreak of rabies in the Autonomous Town of Melilla, a Spanish territory located in the North of Africa. It is the third outbreak this year, following those notified on 30 September and 18 November. The outbreak was confirmed in a stray dog that was captured on 5 December and died the following day. Rabies was confirmed on 13 December by the national reference laboratory.
As was recently announced, in October and November this year, a total of six cases of human rabies were confirmed from three provinces in South Africa including Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Limpopo provinces. This brought the total number of human rabies deaths in 2021 to seventeen; an increase compared to previous years.
Mass dog vaccinations (MDV) and public awareness are key to success in the fight against canine rabies. Vaccinating at least 70% of the local dog population would break the cycle of transmission from dogs to humans and save the lives of several tens of thousands of humans. In many settings, however, where MDV campaigns are implemented still a high number of dogs remain inaccessible, especially the poorly supervised free-roaming dogs.
The case has been laboratory confirmed in a dog in the Autonomous Town of Melilla, a Spanish territory located on the northern coast of Morocco. The animal did not show clinical signs of rabies when it was captured on 21 September and brought to a shelter in Melilla where it died on the same day. Obviously, there were no human contacts. Canine rabies is endemic throughout Morocco.
A few days ago a man in his 80s died of bat mediated rabies in Illinois, USA, after he woke up to a bat on his neck in mid-August. Although the bat tested positive for rabies, incomprehensively the man declined any form of post-exposure prophylaxis.
Rabies has been confirmed in an illegally imported dog from the municipality of Verden located in Lower Saxony recently. The owner stated that the dog was adopted during vacation in Turkey on 2 September 2021. Eight days later the heavily emaciated unvaccinated Kangal-mixed breed was presented to a private veterinarian after it developed unspecific clinical signs. The dog died during the medical investigation and was submitted to the regional veterinary laboratory for necropsy where rabies infection was confirmed both by DFA and RT-qPCR.
With inaugural meeting held on 06th May 2021 the OIE reference laboratory network for rabies (RABLAB) officially started its work. Membership extends to all 12 OIE-Reference Laboratories for Rabies from across the world that form the core group with a vision to continuously broadening the network in the future. The network will meet on a regular basis and discuss appropriate solutions regarding effective capacity building, proficiency testing, vaccination strategy implementation in particular African and Asian countries.