Correction: We received the following from Sara Rörbecker from Folkhälsomyndigheten:
This article contains information that is unfortunately incorrect. No rabies virus has been found in bats in Sweden and Sweden remains free of rabies.
Here is the original article: http://www.infectionecologyandepidemiology.net/index.php/iee/article/view/31262
As you can see the researchers found antibodies against lyssavirus, not rabies virus, in a few of the bats collected in 2008-2012.
And even if they would have found active virus (which was not the case), Sweden would still be classified as free of rabies according to the OIE definition.
More information is found here (in Swedish): https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/nyheter-och-press/nyhetsarkiv/2016/december/sverige-ar-fortsatt-rabiesfritt/
Researchers from Folkhälsomyndigheten (Sweden’s Public Health) and Uppsala University are reporting that rabid bats are present in the southern areas of the country, saying Sweden is no longer rabies free.
They studied and analyzed saliva and blood samples from bats over six years and found that of the 450+ bats tested, 14 had rabies specific antibodies in their blood. This indicates the bats had been exposed to the virus at some time. All saliva samples tested negative.
According to a The Local report, all 14 of the bats with the antibodies belong to the Daubenton’s bat species and were captured in either Skåne or Småland in the south of Sweden.
The risk of contracting rabies remains very small in Sweden; however, researchers say it cannot not be totally dismissed in high risk individuals. “This poses no danger to the public. Normal people will not be bitten, but it is good to know if a researcher or a kid finds a bat and happens to be bitten, at least in Skåne or Småland. In that case you should seek medical attention and treatment,” according to Uppsala University virology professor Åke Lundkvist.
Sweden has been considered rabies-free for the past three decades; however, that appears not to be the case anymore.
According to the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, all mammals are susceptible to rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs, coyotes and cats are the likely suspects. Other animals like otters and ferrets are also high risk. Mammals like rabbits, squirrels, rodents and opossums are rarely infected.
Rabies infected animals can appear very aggressive, attacking for no reason. Some may act very tame. They may look like they are foaming at the mouth or drooling because they cannot swallow their saliva. Sometimes the animal may stagger (this can also be seen in distemper). Not long after this point they will die. Most animals can transmit rabies days before showing symptoms.
Initially, like in many diseases, the symptoms of rabies are non-specific; fever, headache and malaise. This may last several days. At the site of the bite, there may be some pain and discomfort. Symptoms then progress to more severe: confusion, delirium, abnormal behavior and hallucinations. If it gets this far, the disease is nearly 100% fatal.
Worldwide, it is estimated that there are more than 69,000 deaths due to rabies annually.
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