Bat rabies confirmed for the first time in Finland


<p>Bat rabies has been confirmed for the first time in Finland. The bat (Daubenton’s Bat or Myotis daubentoni) was sent to Evira from the Turku area on August 14 2009. The European Bat Lyssavirus-2 (EBLV-2) was isolated from the bat.</p>

Bat rabies was suspected as the bat surprisingly bit two researchers while they were studying bats. Both of the exposed researchers have received proper treatment including vaccinations.

This is the first case of rabies in bats in Finland. Bat rabies is caused by the virus types EBLV-1 and EBLV-2. So far EBLV-2 infections have not been reported in any other animal species. In Europe, two cases of EBLV-2 infection in humans have been confirmed, both were bat researchers. However, the risk of possible human exposure to bat lyssaviruses is considered to be low.

Bat rabies also occurs in countries which are free from other forms of rabies, such as Denmark, Germany and the British Isles.

Typical symptoms of rabies in bats are odd behaviour and vocalisation, restlessness and on the other hand surprisingly aggressive episodes, when the bat attacks and tries to bite. The bats should not be touched. If there is a suspicion that a bat may have rabies, the local municipal veterinarian has to be contacted. Rabies is tested in Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira.

A prophylactic rabies vaccination is recommended for those who are regularly in contact with bats either at work or during leisure time. A person who has touched a bat should see a doctor in order to begin treatment, unless a bite, scratch or exposure of the mucous membrane can be excluded with certainty.

For more information, please contact:

Rabies in animals:
Senior Researcher Miia Jakava-Viljanen, Veterinary Virology, tel. + 358 50 351 0308

Rabies in humans:
Senior Medical Officer Markku Kuusi, the National Institute of Health and Welfare, tel. + 358 20 610 8935

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