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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

Exposure to rabies-like virus found in animal in Cork

Rabies could not be ruled out from the samples taken from the sable.

The sable had been imported as a pet.
The sable had been imported as a pet.
Image: Shutterstock/Couperfield

EVIDENCE OF EXPOSURE to a family of viruses which includes rabies has been identified in a sable in Cork. 

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine identified exposure to lyssavirus on the small mammal which had been imported into Ireland as a pet. 

This family of viruses can affect all mammals and it includes the rabies virus. The department was made aware of the mammal on 7 January. 

The sable, which is a species of marten, was behaving in an atypical manner. It was euthanised after examination as a rabies infection could not be ruled out. 

The department liased with the HSE which has identified a small number of individuals who may have had a potential risk of exposure to the animal. 

However, initial screening tests by the Central Veterinary Laboratory in the DAFM and the European Reference Laboratory (EURL) in France were negative. 

On 23 January, the EURL reported evidence that could not rule out rabies. 

The department is putting precautionary measures in place in a surveillance zone in Cork as a result, despite the low chance of the virus having spread to other animals.

zone The precautionary zone in Co Cork. Source: DAFM

Within this zone, outlined in the map, the gathering of dogs, cats or ferrets, including hunting, sales or fairs is not allowed. Any dead mammals found in the area should also be reported to the department.

These measures will remain in place for a month, subject to review. 

Any owners of dogs, cats and/or ferrets are advised to monitor the health and behaviour of their pets and report any unusual behaviour to the department. 

People in this surveillance zone looking for further information can phone the DAFM Regional Office in Cork on 021 4851400.

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