A man died on Thursday in a Paris hospital after contracting rabies in Mali, the French Health Ministry said in a statement, in the first human death from rabies in France in more than 10 years.
The rabies virus, which is carried in the saliva of infected animals, is generally spread when an animal bites or comes in close contact with a human or another animal. Transmission between humans is extremely rare, although it has happened through organ transplants and bites.
"Although there does not appear to have been any direct human to human transmission, the (hospital) personnel and close family have been ... taken to an anti-rabies centre to see whether they need to be vaccinated," the statement said.
The ministry, which gave no personal details of the man, said he had been diagnosed with the disease on April 2.
The diagnosis was confirmed by the French Pasteur Institute, which is dedicated to the study of diseases and vaccines, this week.
Rabies was officially eradicated from France in 2001. The last person to die after contracting the disease in France was recorded in 1924, although there have been about 20 cases of people bringing the illness with them from overseas since 1970, the ministry said.
'No known cure'
The last recorded death in France was a three-year old girl in 2003 after she contracted the disease in Gabon.
Last autumn, 10 people were given preventive treatment for rabies in France after coming into contact with a kitten that died of the disease.
The last case of animal rabies originating from within French territory was that of a fox found in December 1998.
Symptoms in humans include seizures, partial paralysis, fever and brain inflammation, or encephalitis. There is no known treatment to cure rabies once the infection has taken hold.
Africa is home to nearly half the 55,000 people around the world who die each year from the disease, according to experts.
Vaccination of humans, as well as dogs and domestic pets, is the only way to prevent the spread of rabies.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-04-04