The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is highlighting the risks posed by rabies to travellers after three imported human rabies cases were reported in the European Union (EU) within weeks.
According to the authority, Latvia, Italy and Spain have reported rabies cases in the last fortnight.
The case in Latvia was reported on December 5 in a patient with a travel history to Asia before the onset of symptoms. The case in Italy, which was reported on December 10, was identified in a patient who had been hospitalised on October 8 and died on November 19. This patient had a travel history to Zanzibar, Tanzania, where the individual was bitten by a dog in September. In Spain, authorities in the Basque country confirmed the diagnosis of an imported rabies case on December 11 with travel history to Morocco.
These latest cases come just months after Norway reported a fatal imported case in a returning traveller from South East Asia.
Between 2015 and 2018, there were zero to one human case of rabies reported every year. The ECDC said it is monitoring the latest events closely and that the cases highlight the need for travel advice and rapid post-exposure prophylaxis after being bitten by a potentially rabid animal.