Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted from animals to humans. When symptoms appear, and without immediate treatment, rabies is fatal in 100% of cases. It can be avoided thanks to vaccination. In Belgium, the main threat still comes from the illegal importation of dogs from infected countries.
Which profiles are most at-risk?
Rabies can affect anyone but some people are particularly exposed:
- people who are in regular contact with nature due to their leisure activities (walkers, cyclists, campers, etc.) in endemic regions (not in Belgium)
- travellers who stay in high-risk regions for long periods
- expatriates living in high-risk regions
- people exposed to a professional risk, such as forest rangers, potholers, archaeologists working in contaminated zones, taxidermists, vets or laboratory personnel that handle live rabies viruses.
- people who are called upon professionally to be in direct contact with carnivores or other mammals in zones where rabies is rife.
- people who are called upon professionally or for any other reason to be in direct contact with bats, including in Belgium
- children that often play with animals in endemic regions.
These at-risk populations can benefit from preventative vaccination.