23 November 2012

Animal rabies in northern Greece - update

On 19 November 2012, the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food reported an additional case of animal rabies to the World Organisation for Animal Health [1].

The case occurred in a dog which was destroyed after biting other dogs and sheep on a farm in the Western Macedonia region of northern Greece. The dog subsequently tested positive for rabies. The dog is thought to have acquired the disease following contact with wild animals.

On 19 October 2012, a case of animal rabies was reported in a red fox in the same region of northern Greece [2]. These are the first cases of animal rabies to be reported in Greece since 1987.

Western Macedonia borders the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, both of which are considered high-risk for rabies.

Advice for travellers

The risk of rabies to travellers to Greece remains very low and rabies pre-exposure vaccine is not recommended. Western Macedonia is not a major tourist destination; however, UK travellers are advised to avoid contact with wild and domestic animals.

Should any traveller experience an animal bite, scratch, or lick, they should seek urgent medical advice to assess the risk of rabies, either in Greece or on return to the UK (if their return is imminent), from their GP or NHS Direct.

Following an animal bite, wounds should be thoroughly cleansed and a medical assessment sought, even if the wound appears trivial. Prompt post-exposure rabies treatment may be necessary, even if pre-exposure rabies vaccine has been received.

Expert advice for health professionals on rabies post exposure management is available from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) Virus Reference Laboratory (020 8200 4400) or the duty doctor at HPA Health Protection Services - Colindale (020 8200 6868).

Specific health advice for travellers to Greece can be found on the NaTHNaC Country Information Page.


1. World Organisation for Animal Health. Rabies, Greece. 19 November 2012. [Accessed 23 November 2012]. Available at:


2. NaTHNaC. Rabies detected in a fox in northern Greece. 23 October 2012. [Accessed 23 November 2012]. Available at: