Rabies case in London after patient bitten by dog in South Asia

17:20 23 May 2012

A patient is being treated for rabies in London, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said today.

The potentially fatal disease was caught after the person, whose age or gender has not been given, was bitten by a dog in South Asia.

The patient is receiving hospital treatment and all relevant contacts have been followed up, the HPA said.

The HPA stressed there was no risk to the public.

Dr Brian McCloskey, director of the HPA for London, said: “It is important to stress that there is no risk to the general public as a result of this case or to patients and visitors at the hospital where the patient is receiving treatment.

“Despite there being tens of thousands of rabies cases each year worldwide, there have been no documented laboratory confirmed cases of human-to-human spread.

“Therefore the risk to other humans or animals from a patient with rabies is considered negligible.

“However to take every possible precaution, family members and healthcare staff who had close contact with the patient since they became unwell - which is when they are infectious - have been assessed and offered vaccination if appropriate.”

Rabies is usually transferred through saliva from the bite of an infected animal with dogs being the most common transmitter of rabies to humans.

More than 55,000 people are estimated to die from rabies every year, with most cases occurring in developing countries, particularly South and South-East Asia.

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