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There are often town signs featuring another smaller sign reading "Wildtollwut! Gefährdeter Bezirk" in Germany. This directly translates into "Rabies! Endangered district".

enter image description here

How to react to such a sign? What are Dos and Don'ts in such a district?

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If you see a sign like this, you should either

  1. Ignore it, or
  2. Contact the local municipality (Gemeinde) to have it removed.

As Gistiv stated, Germany is rabies-free since 2008, but it seems that there was no concerted effort to remove these signs when rabies was eradicated. This paywalled newspaper article is, precisely, about a misleading left-over rabies warning sign like the one you photographed. The article clarifies:

Muss man sich also fürchten? „Nein“, erklärt Dr. Martin Korneli vom Veterinäramt des Landkreises Main-Spessart. „Ganz Deutschland ist mittlerweile tollwutfrei.“ ... „Das Schild muss demnächst mal weg“, erklärt Susanne Günzel von der Stadt Arnstein.

Translated:

Do you have to be afraid? ‘No’, explains Dr Martin Korneli of the Veterinary Office of the Main-Spessart district. ‘All of Germany is now free of rabies.’ ... ‘The sign has to go soon’, explains Susanne Günzel of the City of Arnstein.

This web page also mentions the problem of the left-over signs. They link to an official declaration from the responsible Bavarian ministry1 which confirms that Germany is rabies-free and, regarding the signs, says

Gefährdete Bezirke sind nach § 8 Abs. 2 der Tollwut-VO durch Schilder zu kennzeichnen, wobei die Gemeinde nach § 1 Abs. 5 der Verordnung zum Vollzug des Tierseuchenrechts für das Aufstellen und Entfernen der Schilder zuständig ist.

which clarifies that the Gemeinde is responsible for removing the signs.


1The link on the website is broken, so I've linked to an archived version of the document instead.

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At first of all how old is this picture? Because many sources say that Germany is rabies-free since 2008. (second Source) But I'm not a 100% sure if there has to be a case of rabis to put up those signs.

Humans: In principle those signs have no impact on your every day life, even as a outdoor-enthusiast. You should, like always, avoid contact with wild animals. If you get attacked by a wild animal and you get bitten you should go to a doctor as soon as possible. Even if there is no rabies suspicion in this area you go should to a doctor after you get bitten by an animal because they can transmit various diseases. If you see a dead animal lying around in such an area don't touch it and call your local hunter/vet/police and report the find.

Pets: If you own a dog and you live or hike with your dog in such an district you always have to lead him on a leash because he could bite a wild animal or get bitten by one. Pets that have no rabies vaccination(or an unproveable vaccination), and are under rabies suspicion, can be put to sleep.

If you are from Germany or you can read/understand the german language, here is the link to the german rabies-regulation.

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Even if the existence of rabies in that area is real, there is really very little you would do differently.

I live in a area (New England, North America) where rabies is present. In your words, the entire continent is a Gefährdeter Bezirk. You are always conscious that any wild animal could possibly be infected. The vast majority of the time, it means you do nothing different than you otherwise would.

I'd be careful if I saw a wild animal acting strangely and not having the usual fear of humans it should. If I got bitten anyway, I'd definitely go to a doctor and get checked for rabies.

While rabies is a serious disease that needs to be treated, the chance of getting infected is quite small. I've never myself seen a obvious rabid animal, and I don't personally know anyone that got bitten by a rabid animal and was infected by rabies. It happens, but the probability is far below risks you take for granted every day. Human deaths from rabies in all of North America now average around a couple a year. If I remember right, that is fewer people than get hit by lightning over the same time and region.

The biggest human impact from the existence of rabies is that pets that go outdoors have to be immunized. That is also why the human rabies fatality rate is so low compared to the early 1900s before dogs were routinely immunized.

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