Germany urges vaccinated people to remember rabbits after outbreak of deadly rabbitpox

Germany’s health minister on Monday encouraged people to get vaccinated against “rabbitpox,” which has caused 19 cases of severe illness and one death in the country since January, a media report said.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Armin Laschet urged members of the general public “to remember the rabbits.”

According to health ministry data, 1,500 free vaccinations have been administered since Sunday to about 36,000 people who have been exposed to the virus.

The average age of those in hospitals undergoing treatment for the disease is 60.

The virus, which belongs to the virus family of Varicella-zoster, like chickenpox, had been only found in Europe in rabbits before it was identified in humans in the 1980s.

However, experts say it is becoming more likely because the virus got into the food chain during the German food shortage in 1992.

Since then, rabbits, chickens and pigs in Germany have been vaccinated for varicella-zoster. But there are no known protocols in place to protect humans from exposure to the virus, the report said.

Since most infections have occurred during the winter months when people are indoors, health authorities say vaccinations should be offered early when people are most at risk, the report said.

It said that when there is a risk of exposure, people should immediately visit their health provider.

DPA/Reuters

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