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1.  First Human Rabies Case in French Guiana, 2008: Epidemiological Investigation and Control 
Background
Until 2008, human rabies had never been reported in French Guiana. On 28 May 2008, the French National Reference Center for Rabies (Institut Pasteur, Paris) confirmed the rabies diagnosis, based on hemi-nested polymerase chain reaction on skin biopsy and saliva specimens from a Guianan, who had never travelled overseas and died in Cayenne after presenting clinically typical meningoencephalitis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Molecular typing of the virus identified a Lyssavirus (Rabies virus species), closely related to those circulating in hematophagous bats (mainly Desmodus rotundus) in Latin America. A multidisciplinary Crisis Unit was activated. Its objectives were to implement an epidemiological investigation and a veterinary survey, to provide control measures and establish a communications program. The origin of the contamination was not formally established, but was probably linked to a bat bite based on the virus type isolated. After confirming exposure of 90 persons, they were vaccinated against rabies: 42 from the case's entourage and 48 healthcare workers. To handle that emergence and the local population's increased demand to be vaccinated, a specific communications program was established using several media: television, newspaper, radio.
Conclusion/Significance
This episode, occurring in the context of a Department far from continental France, strongly affected the local population, healthcare workers and authorities, and the management team faced intense pressure. This observation confirms that the risk of contracting rabies in French Guiana is real, with consequences for population educational program, control measures, medical diagnosis and post-exposure prophylaxis.
Author Summary
Until 2008, rabies had never been described within the French Guianan human population. Emergence of the first case in May 2008 in this French Overseas Department represented a public health event that markedly affected the local population, healthcare workers and public health authorities. The antirabies clinic of French Guiana, located at Institut Pasteur de la Guyane, had to reorganize its functioning to handle the dramatically increased demand for vaccination. A rigorous epidemiological investigation and a veterinary study were conducted to identify the contamination source, probably linked to a bat bite, and the exposed population. Communication was a key factor to controlling this episode and changing the local perception of this formerly neglected disease. Because similar clinical cases had previously been described, without having been diagnosed, medical practices must be adapted and the rabies virus should be sought more systematically in similarly presenting cases. Sharing this experience could be useful for other countries that might someday have to manage such an emergence.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001537
PMCID: PMC3283561  PMID: 22363830
2.  Imported Episodic Rabies Increases Patient Demand for and Physician Delivery of Antirabies Prophylaxis 
Background
Imported cases threaten rabies reemergence in rabies-free areas. During 2000–2005, five dog and one human rabies cases were imported into France, a rabies-free country since 2001. The Summer 2004 event led to unprecedented media warnings by the French Public Health Director. We investigated medical practice evolution following the official elimination of rabies in 2001; impact of subsequent episodic rabies importations and national newspaper coverage on demand for and delivery of antirabies prophylaxis; regular transmission of epidemiological developments within the French Antirabies Medical Center (ARMC) network; and ARMC discussions on indications of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (RPEP).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Annual data collected by the National Reference Center for Rabies NRCR (1989–2006) and the exhaustive database (2000–2005) of 56 ARMC were analyzed. Weekly numbers of patients consulting at ARMC and their RPEP- and antirabies-immunoglobulin (ARIG) prescription rates were determined. Autoregressive integrated moving-average modeling and regression with autocorrelated errors were applied to examine how 2000–2005 episodic rabies events and their related national newspaper coverage affected demand for and delivery of RPEP. A slight, continuous decline of rabies-dedicated public health facility attendance was observed from 2000 to 2004. Then, during the Summer 2004 event, patient consultations and RPEP and ARIG prescriptions increased by 84%, 19.7% and 43.4%, respectively. Moreover, elevated medical resource use persisted in 2005, despite communication efforts, without any secondary human or animal case.
Conclusions
Our findings demonstrated appropriate responsiveness to reemerging rabies cases and effective newspaper reporting, as no secondary case occurred. However, the ensuing demand on medical resources had immediate and long-lasting effects on rabies-related public health resources and expenses. Henceforth, when facing such an event, decision-makers must anticipate the broad impact of their media communications to counter the emerging risk on maintaining an optimal public health organization and implement a post-crisis communication strategy.
Author Summary
Rabies has been eliminated from a large part of the European Union and, thus, any newly imported cases threaten its reemergence. The 2000–2005 data derived from the exhaustive surveillance system implemented in France was analyzed to evaluate the impact on demand for and delivery of antirabies prophylaxis following introduction of five rabies-infected dogs and one infected human into this rabies-free area. Using these events, we were able to illustrate the difficulties encountered in reducing the demand for and prescription of post-exposure rabies prophylaxis in this context of episodic importation. Moreover, we highlighted the need for public health decision-makers to anticipate the broad spectrum of consequences of their media communications and to prepare appropriate responses (in terms of health resources) to maintain an optimally effective public health organization after importation of an exotic infectious agent or its emergence. These responses are particularly relevant in the context of limited availability of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, especially antirabies immunoglobulin.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000723
PMCID: PMC2889823  PMID: 20582307
3.  European Bat Lyssavirus Transmission among Cats, Europe 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2009;15(2):280-284.
We identified 2 cases of European bat lyssavirus subtype 1 transmission to domestic carnivores (cats) in France. Bat-to-cat transmission is suspected. Low amounts of virus antigen in cat brain made diagnosis difficult.
doi:10.3201/eid1502.080637
PMCID: PMC2657616  PMID: 19193273
Rabies; lyssavirus; chiroptera; cats; diagnosis; spillover; transmission; Europe; dispatch

Results 1-3 (3)