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Briton dies from rabies contracted while in Morocco

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

By Ella Pickover, Press Association Health Correspondent

A Briton has died after contracting rabies while abroad in Morocco, health officials have said.

Public Health England (PHE) issued a warning to travellers after the UK resident contracted the disease after being bitten by a rabid cat.

No more details have been released about the case.

PHE said there is "no risk" to the wider public but as a precautionary measure, health workers and close contacts have been offered vaccination if necessary.

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 last recorded rabies case in Britain was in 2012, where a UK resident was bitten by a dog in South Asia.

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."

Rabies is passed on through infected animals through injuries such as bites or scratches.

It does not spread from human to human.

The infection is not found in UK animals expect in a small number of wild bats.

There have been no documented cases of humans acquiring rabies in animals other than bats since 1902.

But a single case of human rabies acquired from a bat was reported in 2002 in Scotland.

People who travel to an area of the world where rabies is common - such as Asia or Africa - are advised to consider vaccination, particularly if they intend to stay for at least a month or if they are planning activities which put them at increased risk of coming into contact with animals with rabies.

PHE said that 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.

More country specific information on rabies is available through the National Travel Health Network and Centre's website.

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