Published: Thu, November 15, 2018
Medical | By

British tourist bitten by cat in Morocco dies from rabies

British tourist bitten by cat in Morocco dies from rabies

A British holidaymaker died after contracting rabies in Morocco, reports the Telegraph quoting the Public Health England (PHE).

No human cases of rabies from animals other than bats have been reported since 1902 (Public Health England has information on what to do if you're bitten by a bat).

Health workers in Morocco and those close to the victim, who has not yet been named publicly, are being assessed for the disease and offered vaccinations if required.

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

As is the case here, rabies is passed on through injuries such as bites and scratches from an infected animal.

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

According to the World Health Organization, the disease occurs in more than 150 countries and causes tens of thousands of death every year, mainly in Asia and Africa.


Rabies, which is nearly always fatal once symptoms appear, is an infectious viral disease which affects the brain and central nervous system.

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

The infection is not found in United Kingdom animals expect in a small number of wild bats. It does not spread from human to human. The last recorded case before this one was in 2012 - the individual was bitten by a dog in South Asia. The National Travel Health Network and Centre's website TravelHealthPro has information on the risk of rabies on its country information pages.

Rabies is a "zoonotic" infection of the brain and nerves.

Earlier symptoms can include headaches, high temperature (38C or above), generally feeling unwell or anxious. At the time, Mr Macrae's death marked the first case of a rabies-induced fatality in Britain for 100 years. Within days, other symptoms including confusion and aggressive behaviour, muscles spasms, foaming at the mouth, an inability to move and hallucinations, may appear. Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is almost always fatal.

If the condition is diagnosed before symptoms have appear, however, treatment is very effective.

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