A man, who was likely bitten or scratched by a bat nesting in the attic of his house in central France, died of rabies, announced the Pasteur Institute, noting that this case is the first of its kind in France. The 60-year-old man died in Limoges, in August 2019, from encephalitis, the cause of which was not known.
Under a partnership between the Paris-based Necker Hospital and the Pasteur Institute aimed at identifying the causes of undocumented brain diseases, samples taken from the dead man's body were analyzed. The results showed that he had contracted lysovirus, the European bat LyssaVirus type 1.
"It's been 35 years since such a death happened in the world. And in mainland France it's really the first. In Russia, in 1985, only one other case of human encephalitis caused by this strain was confirmed, and two more cases of rabies were described in Finland in 1985 and in Scotland in 2002. They were caused by a different species of bat lysavirus, and killed two scientists specializing in bats research," Laurent Dashe, deputy head of the Pasteur Institute's national rabies reference center told AFP. He suggested that "the patient had contact with bats nesting in his attic." Dashe said rabies has been officially eradicated in France since 2002, adding that "the last death related to non-flying animals in France occurred in 1998."