British holidaymaker dies from rabies

Yawning cat

Health officials have said that a British holidaymaker has died after contracting rabies in Morocco. According to Public Health England (PHE), the infection was caused by a cat bite. PHE has issued a reminder to travellers to avoid coming into contact with animals when in rabies-affected countries. It said that although there is no risk to the wider public in relation to this case, as a precautionary measure, health workers and close contacts are being assessed and offered vaccination when necessary.

Rabies is passed on through injuries such as bites and scratches from an infected animal. It does not circulate in either wild or domestic animals in the UK, although some species of bats can carry a rabies-like virus. It is common in other parts of the world, especially in Asia and Africa, and travellers to rabies-affected countries are advised to avoid contact with dogs, cats and other animals wherever possible, and seek advice about the need for rabies vaccine prior to travel. If bitten, the wound should immediately be washed with soap and water and local medical advice sought without delay.

Further details about the Briton’s death have not been released. 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.”