Lyssavirus Unit (ULys) of the Nancy Laboratory for Rabies and Wildlife

Acting Head of Unit: Franck Boué

The Lyssavirus Unit has solid expertise in rabies viruses, but has broadened its range of activities to other viruses, such as hantaviruses and coronaviruses.

Reference activities

The unit is the National Reference Laboratory for rabies. It also has five international reference mandates: it is the European Union reference laboratory for both rabies and rabies serology, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reference laboratory for rabies, and the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for research and management of zoonoses. Lastly, it is an Official Medicines Control Laboratory for the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & Healthcare.

Surveillance activities

The unit contributes to the monitoring of rabies in animals at national and international level, as well as to the monitoring of lyssaviruses in France.

It also monitors other wildlife viruses, with a focus on coronaviruses and hantaviruses. The objective is to learn more about the viruses circulating in certain animal species, to better understand the potential for the emergence of new viruses, and lastly to better comprehend human exposure to certain viruses (hantaviruses).

Research activities

The unit participates in various studies on the circulation of rabies and other lyssaviruses, and also of other wildlife viruses. These studies are carried out in wild, captive and/or domesticated animal populations, both single and multi-species, as well as in cell models.

The studies are accompanied by the development of diagnostic, immunological and molecular tools, which contribute to improving and harmonising the available laboratory methods. This is important for identifying the factors that promote or limit viral circulation.

The study of vaccination strategies, whether oral and/or parenteral, is also one of the unit's main areas of research. Its participation in oral vaccination programmes for foxes has led to the elimination of fox rabies from France (the last case was in 1998). The unit is now involved in research programmes on management measures in areas where the virus is still circulating, as well as in programmes aimed at keeping the country rabies-free (managing the risk of reintroduction).