A visitor to Morocco from the UK has died from the disease after being bitten by a cat near the capital Rabat.
Morocco is a fast-growing good-value destination for European tourists, but holidaymakers venturing there have been warned to avoid any contract with cats, dogs and other animals after a tourist contracted rabies and died following a cat bite, TTG reports.
The man has been named by the British tabloid The Sun as Omar Zouhri, 58, from the town of Aylesbury, a British-Moroccan national who was visiting relatives in Mehdya, around 50 kilometres north of the capital Rabat.
His death has prompted a warning to tourists from Public Health England about the dangers of approaching animals – and of the importance of getting vaccinated before travelling.
“There is no risk to the wider public in relation to this case but, as a precautionary measure, health workers and close contacts are being assessed and offered vaccination when necessary,” the statement reads.
“Rabies is common in other parts of the world, especially in Asia and Africa. All travellers to rabies-affected countries should avoid contact with dogs, cats and other animals wherever possible, and seek advice about the need for rabies vaccine prior to travel.”
Even if licked
The disease is passed on through bites and scratches from an infected animal. There are no documented instances of direct human-to-human transmission.
Anyone bitten, scratched or even licked by an animal in a country where rabies is prevalent is advised to immediately wash the wound and seek immediate medical advice, even if they have been vaccinated.
“When given promptly after an exposure, a course of rabies vaccine is extremely effective at preventing the disease,” the statement continues.
“If such an exposure occurs abroad, the traveller should also consult their doctor on return so the course of rabies treatment can be completed. If travellers have not sought medical advice abroad, they should contact their doctor promptly upon return for assessment.”