British tourist dies after contracting rabies from cat bite in Morocco

British holidaymaker dies after contracting rabies while on holiday in Morocco

British holidaymaker dies after contracting rabies while on holiday in Morocco Credit Davide Seddio Moment RF

Although the disease can be prevented by vaccination, once illness develops it is usually fatal.

The victim is believed to have sought help in both Morocco and the United Kingdom, but it is not known where they experienced the delay in what Professor Whitworth described as a "high stakes" situation.

PHE said health workers and the victim's friends and family were being monitored and had been offered vaccinations.

"But it can be as short as a week and that's why seeking prompt care and getting vaccination is so important".

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.

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Geoffrey Smith, head of the pathology department at the University of Cambridge, said that rabies is one of the few diseases on which a vaccine can be effective after infection.

"There are high stakes, you must not get it wrong".

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

The last recorded rabies case in Britain was in 2012, after a United Kingdom resident was bitten by a dog in south Asia.

This is an important reminder of the precautions people should take when travelling to countries where rabies is present.

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PHE did not release any further details but reassured the public there was no wider risk. It is passed on through bites and scratches from an infected animal. It does not spread from human to human.

No humans have contracted rabies in the United Kingdom from animals - other than bats - for over 100 years.

No humans have contracted rabies in the United Kingdom from animals - other than bats - for over 100 years, PHE said, adding that the disease does not circulate in wild or domestic animals in the country. 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.

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.

All travellers to rabies affected countries should avoid contact with dogs, cats and other animals wherever possible, and seek advice about the need for rabies vaccine prior to travel.

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

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