Rabies case confirmed in London

A case of rabies has been confirmed in London, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said.

The potentially fatal disease was identified in a patient who was bitten by a dog in South Asia.

The patient, whose age and gender was not given, is being treated at London's Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

A hospital spokeswoman: "We would like to reassure our patients, visitors and staff there is no risk to them as a result of this case."

All relevant contacts with people the patient has had since being bitten have been followed up, the HPA said.

Rabies is usually transferred through saliva from the bite of an infected animal, with dogs being the most common transmitter of rabies to humans.

'Negligible' risk

Dr Brian McCloskey, director of the HPA for London, said: "Despite there being tens of thousands of rabies cases each year worldwide, there have been no documented laboratory confirmed cases of human-to-human spread.

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Media captionDr Brian McCloskey: "We have been very precautionary with some of the family and the health care workers but there's no risk to the public"

"Therefore the risk to other humans or animals from a patient with rabies is considered negligible."

More than 55,000 people are thought to die from rabies each year, with most cases occurring in South and South-East Asia.

Professor David Brown, a rabies expert at the HPA, said only four cases of human rabies acquired from dogs, all from abroad, had been identified in the UK since 2000.

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