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Beware the Animals on Holiday that we Travel so far to See

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Rabies is a viral infection, most commonly transmitted to humans (itself an extremely uncommon event) by an infected dog. Once symptoms of infection develop, the prognosis is invariably unfavourable.

The gender and age of the patient has not been revealed, but it is known that the patient travelled to South East Asia recently and was bitten by a native dog. Some news reports have state that the patient travelled to India 2 months ago.

As a viral infection, rabies is known to be able to spread by the exchange of bodily fluid but not by air or passing bodily contact. The infection is very rarely seen in the UK and we are advised that those who could even remotely have been exposed to a possible infection risk, including close family members and some healthcare workers, have been offered vaccination and/or prophylactic treatment where appropriate.

My thoughts go out to the patient and his/her family and friends. I am sure that they are receiving the best possible treatment and hope that he or she goes on make a full recovery.

Whilst many of us in the current economic environment are unable to take a holiday, or choose to take our holiday in the UK, some holidays to far-flung destinations (outside of the Euro) are almost as affordable as those closer to home. This should be a warning to all of us to stay on our guard around unknown animals on holiday.  We are lucky in the UK to have been able to eradicate rabies, and have employed stringent border controls in order to maintain our "rabies free" status. There is no suggestion that this unfortunate patient is a risk to others, but when we are abroad, we should remember that not all countries enjoy our status, and take care around the native species' and domestic animals that we have travelled so far to see.

Again, my very best wishes go out to the patient concerned and to his or her concerned family and friends. 

Kym Provan

Associate - Clinical Negligence team

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