In Brief

Rabies warning issued as British tourist dies from cat bite

Omar Zouhri reportedly did not receive life-saving vaccine in time after being infected in Morocco

The death of a British tourist infected with rabies after being bitten by a cat in Morocco might have been prevented by a potentially life-saving vaccine, according to reports.

Omar Zouhri, believed to be a dual British-Moroccan national, was on a trip to visit relatives when he was nipped by the animal. The 58-year-old kebab shop owner, from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, is the first Briton to die from rabies in 16 years.

The Sun reports that Zouhri, a father of two, had “sought treatment in Morocco and again when he returned to the UK but did not get anti-viral drugs in time”.

 “It is believed the rabid animal also bit a young girl, who received treatment locally and made a full recovery,” the newpaper adds.

Zouhri’s widow, Chadia, told The Sun: “You have no idea how tragic this is. It will all come out at the inquest.”

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a warning to travellers about the risk of rabies.

“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,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at PHE.

Rabies is a very serious viral infection that affects the brain and the central nervous system. It is passed through injuries from  infected animals, with no reported incidences of a human contracting the disease from another human. There are no infected wild or domestic animals in the UK, but five non-fatal cases of human rabies contracted by Britons abroad have been reported between 2000 and 2017, according to the BBC

Initial symptoms of the disease include high fever and anxiety, but quickly can progress to hallucinations, muscle spasms and respiratory failure.

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