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Notice on post-exposure treatment of rabies

The French High Council for Public Health (HCSP) updates the recommendations for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in light of the changing epidemiology of rabies in France. The situation of animal rabies in France and its veterinary surveillance are reviewed: the quality of this surveillance allows to affirm that France is free of rabies in non-flying mammals (bats are still reservoirs in France metropolitan territory). Obtaining and maintaining this status relies on constant vigilance and on the implementation of rabies diagnosis in suspected animals.

Therefore, in the event of a bite or scratch by a dog or cat on the whole of French territory - with the exception of French Guyana - the risk of rabies can be considered negligible (unless there is a strong suspicion of an imported animal), and the administration of PEP is not recommended. However, PEP is essential in case of exposure to a bat or an imported animal.

As the situation is quite different in many countries outside the European Union, for travellers, any exposure to rabies risk from an animal able to transmit the rabies virus in a rabies endemic area warrants PEP. Similarly, in French Guyana, the administration of PEP is recommended in these situations.

It is important to develop information for travellers on preventive measures, and what to do in the event of a bite in these endemic countries.

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