Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers


Public health risk analysis of European bat lyssavirus infection in The Netherlands

K. TAKUMIa1 c1, P. H. C. LINAa2, W. H. M. VAN DER POELa3, J. A. KRAMPSa4 and J. W. B. VAN DER GIESSENa1

a1 National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a2 National Museum of Natural History ‘Naturalis’, Leiden, The Netherlands

a3 Animal Sciences Group, Wageningen University Research, Lelystad, The Netherlands

a4 Central Institute for Animal Diseases Control (CIDC–Lelystad), Lelystad, The Netherlands


We present the frequency and the nature of contact incidents of the Serotine bat, Eptesicus serotinus, with humans and with companion animals (specifically cats and dogs), in The Netherlands between 2000 and 2005. Out of 17 bats in bite contact with humans, five tested positive for European bat lyssavirus (EBLV) type 1a. Cats had the most numerous contacts with bats (49 times) but a relatively low number of these bats were EBLV positive (six times). We estimated that the average incidence of human bat rabies infection might be between once per year and once per 700 years, depending mainly on the number of infectious viral particles in bat saliva. The risk of bat rabies is higher between April and October, and in the northern half of the country. This is the first study in Europe describing the risk of human bat rabies after bat contact incidents.

(Accepted November 30 2007)

(Online publication January 21 2008)


c1 Author for correspondence: Dr K. Takumi, Laboratory for Zoonotic and Environmental Microbiology, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, PO Box 1, 3720 BA, Bilthoven, The Netherlands. (Email: Katsuhisa.Takumi@rivm.nl)