Brit dies of rabies after being bitten by cat on holiday in Morocco

morocco cat

Public Health England issued a warning to travellers after the UK resident contracted the disease

A Briton has died of rabies after being bitten by a cat while on holiday in Morocco, according to Public Health England (PHE).

PHE issued a warning to travellers after the UK resident contracted the disease.

Rabies is a rare but very serious infection of the brain and nerves and is nearly always fatal, according to the NHS.

Rabies does not circulate in either wild or domestic animals in the UK, but between 2000 and 2017 five UK residents became infected with rabies after “animal exposures abroad”, PHE added.

The government body released information about the case along with travel advice to tourists who are bitten and scratched by an animal abroad.

They added: “This reminder comes after a UK resident sadly died after becoming infected with rabies following a cat bite during a visit to Morocco.

“There is no risk to the wider public in relation to this case but, as a precautionary measure, health workers and close contacts are being assessed and offered vaccination when necessary.

“Human rabies is extremely rare in the UK. No human cases of rabies acquired in the UK from animals other than bats have been reported since 1902.

“A single case of human rabies acquired from a bat was reported in 2002 in Scotland; this individual had sustained a number of bat bites. 5 cases of human rabies associated with animal exposures abroad occurred between 2000 and 2017.”

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at PHE, said: “This is an important reminder of the precautions people should take when travelling to countries where rabies is present.

“If you are bitten, scratched or licked by an animal you must wash the wound or site of exposure with plenty of soap and water and seek medical advice without delay.

“There is no risk to the wider public in relation to this case but, as a precautionary measure, health workers and close contacts are being assessed and offered vaccination when necessary.”

In 2012, a British woman died from rabies after being bitten by a puppy in India.

The grandmother, in her 50s, was sent home three times by her GP and a hospital’s A&E department before eventually being diagnosed with rabies.

The victim, who was bitten 10 weeks prior to her death, was eventually placed in an isolation unit at London’s Hospital for Tropical Diseases but passed away.

It later emerged she did not tell medics early on that she had been to India and had been bitten by a dog.

Twenty people were vaccinated against rabies after the woman – who is of Indian origin – contracted the killer disease, including six relatives and medics.

Last month, PHE issued a warning after rabies was found in the body of a tiny bat weighing little more than a 50p coin at a secret location in Dorset.

PHE is now urging GPs to consider giving rabies injections to any of their patients who are routinely exposed to bats.

Officials said rabies showed up in the form of European Bat Lyssavirus 1 (EBLV-1) which was detected in a dead Serotine bat.

Serotine bats are native to the UK. It is the first time this particular virus has ever been confirmed in the UK.

PHE warned that the bat rabies virus ‘is related to the classical rabies virus and can lead to clinical rabies in humans’.

Officials advised that ‘any person exposed to any type of bat in the UK should receive a prompt risk assessment and may require post-exposure treatment with rabies vaccine’.

Exposure means a bite, scratch or contact with bat saliva. Every year, around 150 people in England receive NHS treatment after being bitten by a bat.

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