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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

ANSES's Laboratory for Rabies and Wildlife celebrates 40 years of commitment to human and animal health 27 september 2012

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News of 27/09/2012

The Nancy Laboratory for rabies and wildlife, which specialises in animal rabies, plays a key role in the French rabies monitoring system. Since its founding 40 years ago, the laboratory has contributed to rabies control through its research and development programmes. In conjunction with World Rabies Day (September 28), the laboratory has organised two scientific knowledge-sharing events which are also an opportunity to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Rabies is viral disease responsible for over 55 000 deaths each year worldwide. Although it has been eradicated in France since 1998, rabies remains a threat on French territory, as illustrated by the sporadic outbreaks of canine rabies due to the illegal entry into the country of dogs incubating the disease. In response to these challenges, rabies has been a major topic of interest for ANSES and the involvement of its risk evaluation departments and one of its 12 laboratories is proof of this commitment.

Since it was founded in 1972, the ANSES Laboratory for Rabies and Wildlife has played a major role in the national system for rabies control. It has helped to eliminate the virus in France, and participates actively in European and international eradication plans.

As a National Reference Laboratory, it diagnoses rabies in animals which are not suspected to have contaminated humans. In addition to its national activities, the laboratory also plays a key role at the European level with two European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) mandates, for rabies and rabies serology. In this capacity, it actively participates in the development and the standardisation of diagnostic methods and serological rabies antibody titration tests for vaccinated animals. The laboratory is an official medicinal product inspection laboratory recognised by the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines. In this context and since its creation it has been in charge of monitoring batches of veterinary anti-rabies vaccines before their use. This control activity is conducted on both inactivated and live vaccines used for oral vaccination campaigns. Internationally, the Nancy Laboratory for Rabies and Wildlife is an OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) reference laboratory for rabies, and its role is to provide expertise and laboratory services which contribute to reinforcing the capacities of the National veterinary services and the safety of trade, as well as diagnostic assistance for the detection and prevention of rabies.

It is also a WHO Collaborating Centre and therefore participates in the development and application of guidelines related to rabies and issues scientific opinions on methods for controlling animal rabies.

The laboratory also performs research activities aiming to evaluate the pathogenicity of the lyssavirus bat virus in domestic carnivores and foxes in France.

For World Rabies Day, and as an opportunity to celebrate its 40-year anniversary and its long-standing commitment to human and animal health, the Nancy laboratory is holding two major scientific events in the days proceeding the key date of September 28th:

21 September 2012: a scientific conference supported by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
One year after the world rabies conference hosted by the OIE, this event was organised to take stock of scientific developments. About fifty acknowledged international experts and representatives from institutions working actively in the area of rabies control gathered together to share information on the latest research developments. The conference was an opportunity for the laboratory to present to its foreign counterparts the infrastructures at its disposal for carrying out its work.

26 September 2012: 5th workshop of the European Union Reference Laboratory for rabies
Since 2008, ANSES's Nancy Laboratory for Rabies and Wildlife has been the European Union Reference Laboratory for rabies. In this capacity, it provides technical and scientific reference support to the national laboratories across Europe. On September 26th, it invited the members of its network to its 5th workshop. This event was an opportunity for numerous exchanges on topical rabies subjects and on control and prevention methods in Europe.

Find out more

> Read our press kit (in French only)

> Access the Nancy Laboratory for Rabies and Wildlife web page

> The activities associated with the European Union rabies reference mandate

> Our close-up on rabies