Tourist dies after being bitten by cat with rabies in Morocco

Rabies virus particles inside neuron computer illustration. Rabies viruses multiply inside the cytoplasm of brain cells. Their accumulation is seen histologically as so-called Negri bodies. The presence of Negri bodies inside a tissue sample

The victim, a Briton, died after contracting rabies while in Morocco, The Telegraph quoted health officials as saying.

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

Health workers in Morocco and those close to the victim, who has not yet been named publicly, are being assessed for the disease and offered vaccinations if required.

It is passed on through bites and scratches from an infected animal.

The disease does not circulate in either wild or domestic animals in the United Kingdom, although some species of bats can carry a rabies-like virus.

Commenting on this particular case, 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".

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.

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Rabies, which is nearly always fatal once symptoms appear, is an infectious viral disease which affects the brain and central nervous system.

The infection is not found in United Kingdom animals expect in a small number of wild bats. The virus is transmitted to humans through animal bites, and can't spread through physical contact or airborne means in the way that other zoonotic infections can.

The most recent case was in 2012, when a United Kingdom citizen was bitten by a dog in South Asia. It is usually caught from the bite or scratch from an infected animal. The National Travel Health Network and Centre's website TravelHealthPro has information on the risk of rabies on its country information pages.

"After a bite on the foot, there is more time to vaccinate before the virus reaches the brain by traveling along nerve cells, than if one was bitten on the back of the neck". The incubation period between being infected and showing symptoms is between 3 and 12 weeks, depending on the site of the initial infection.

Symptoms include a headache, a temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above, discomfort at the site of the bite and a general feeling of anxiety. Although the disease can be prevented by vaccination, once the illness develops it is nearly always fatal.

But as the disease progresses, there may be hallucinations, respiratory failure, and spasms of the muscles used for swallowing that can make it hard to drink.

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