Holidaymaker dies of rabies after cat bite

Holidaymaker dies of rabies after cat bite

A Briton has died after contracting rabies while on holiday in Morocco, health officials have said.

The UK resident was infected with the disease after being bitten by a cat, Public Health England (PHE) said on Monday.

It said health workers and close contacts of the deceased were being assessed and offered vaccination where necessary.

No human cases of rabies acquired in the United Kingdom from animals other than bats have been reported since 1902.

However, five Britons contracted rabies overseas from animals between 2000 and 2017.

An estimated 95 percent of instances occur in Africa and Asia, according to the World Health Organization, with over 99 percent of cases due to dog bites.

People travelling there are advised to consider vaccination, particularly if they intend to stay for at least a month or if they are planning activities which put them at increased risk of coming into contact with animals with rabies. Local medical advice should be sought without delay, even in those who have been previously vaccinated. Within days, other symptoms including confusion and aggressive behaviour, muscles spasms, foaming at the mouth, an inability to move and hallucinations, may appear.

When given promptly after an exposure, a course of rabies vaccine is extremely effective at preventing the disease.

"This is an important reminder of the precautions people should take when traveling to countries where rabies is present", said Dr. Mary Ramsay, the agency's head of immunizations.

Rabies can be dealt with very effectively if treated correctly and immediately; more information can be found on the HSPC website here.

For more information about the risk of rabies in bats in the United Kingdom see PHE's information for individuals who have been bitten by bats.

However, they insist that there is no risk of spread in this country of a disease that has never passed from human to human.

Rabies is a "zoonotic" infection of the brain and nerves. The last recorded rabies case in the United Kingdom was in 2012.

Rabies is a rare but serious infection which is nearly always fatal when symptoms appear.

No humans have contracted rabies in the United Kingdom from animals - other than bats - for over 100 years. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, feeling unwell and in some cases discomfort at the site of the bite.

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