A British citizen has died of Rabies a few weeks after returning from a holiday in Morocco, according to Public Health England. The unidentified patient apparently sought treatment after being bitten by a Cat while in the North African country, but did not receive the appropriate medication in time, due to an unusually rapid onset of the disease, which typically takes several months to manifest.
Transmission electron microscope image with numerous Rabies virions (small, dark grey, rodlike particles) and Negri bodies (the larger pathognomonic cellular inclusions of rabies infection). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Wikimedia Commons.
Rabies is caused by Viruses of the genus Lyssavirus, a member of the Rhabdoviridae Family of negative-sense single-stranded RNA Viruses, which also includes pathogens attacking Fish, Insects and Plants. Rabies is spread through the saliva of infected animals, and causes hydrophobia (fear of water), anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behaviour, paranoia, terror, and hallucinations, followed by paralysis, coma and death in Humans. Many animals (notably Dogs) become extremely aggressive at this stage and will bite anything that comes near them, helping to spread the disease. In Humans, the disease typically has a gestation period of about three months, during which time the disease can be treated by repeated vaccination and doses of human rabies immunoglobulin, though if treatment is not begun within ten days of infection it is less likely to be successful, and once the patient starts to develop symptoms the disease is almost invariably fatal. Any wound thought to have been caused by an infected animal should be washed thoroughly under running water for at least five minutes, before being treated with alcohol or iodine, and immediate medical attention sought.
This is the first case of a patient dying of Rabies in Britain since 2012, when a woman died after being bitten by a Dog in India. The last case of a person dying after catching the disease in the UK happened in 2002, when a Scottish Bat-handler died after being bitten by a Daubenton's Bat (the disease is still endemic in Bats in the UK and other parts of Europe, but being bitten by a Bat is somewhat unusual) the last case the disease in Britain in animal other than a Bat was recorded in 1922, and the last case of a person dying of the disease after contracting it in the UK from an animal other than a Bat occurred in 1902. However the disease is still endemic in many parts of the world, and this week's death is the 24th in Briton since 1946.
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