British tourist dies after being bitten by cat on Morocco vacation

Desiree Burns
November 13, 2018

Public Health England (PHE) revealed the news on Monday, and renewed the risk of diseases to travellers heading overseas.

The British tourist who died after catching rabies from a cat on holiday in Morocco and not getting a life-saving vaccine on time has been named.

Although there is little no evidence that the disease is passed between humans and animals, PHE offered the renewed warning to travellers to be careful when going overseas.

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

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.

There has been just one case of a human obtaining the disease from a native animal since 1902, when in 2002 a person was bitten by an infected bat in Scotland.

"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.

"There is no risk to the wider public in relation to this case".

The last recorded rabies case in Britain was in 2012, after a United Kingdom resident was bitten by a dog - the most common source of infection in most parts of the world - in South Asia.

Rabies is passed on through infected animals through injuries such as bites or scratches. It does not spread from human to human.

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PHE described the disease as a "very serious viral infection", which attacks the brain and the central nervous system.

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

Rabies is a rare but serious infection which is nearly always fatal when symptoms appear.

Rabies does not circulate in either wild or domestic animals in the United Kingdom - but five United Kingdom residents have become infected with rabies after "animal exposures abroad" between 2000 and 2017.

It has been all but eliminated in much of the western world, including Australia and New Zealand, but is more common in countries in Asia and Africa.

Each year, over 59,000 people die of rabies - with poor and disadvantaged populations affected most when there is limited access to healthcare.

The incubation period between being infected and showing symptoms is usually between three and 12 weeks, depending on the site of the initial infection.

Other symptoms appear a few days later, including the signature sign of the disease - producing lots of saliva or frothing at the mouth.

Additional symptoms can include confusion, hallucinations, muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing or breathing and paralysis.

According to NHS Choices, the infection is nearly always deadly once symptoms appear, but treatment before this is very effective. Mr Zouhri also sought treatment when he arrived in the United Kingdom - but it has been claimed he died from the viral infection because he did not receive the anti-viral vaccine until the virus had become too strong to cure.

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