Travellers warned after Rabies scare

Roger Salmon
Roger Salmon

According to information from the public health authorities in Spain, a dog in the city of Toledo, central Spain, was confirmed to have Rabies on June 5, 2013.

Reports suggest the dog, which travelled to Morocco with two other family dogs, was responsible for attacking several people, including children, in Toledo on June 1.

Later that day it was captured and euthanized. Based on current available information, anyone who has been bitten, licked or scratched by a dog within 20km of Toledo since mid May is urged to seek urgent medical advice.

Spain has been free from Rabies since 1978. There is no change to the Rabies risk in other areas of Spain at present, but further information is being sought from the Spanish authorities about this incident.

Dr Hilary Kilbride, Rabies expert at Public Health England said “although the animal has been destroyed UK travellers are being advised if travelling to Spain to avoid contact with wild and domestic animals.

If they are bitten, scratched or licked, they should wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and urgently seek medical advice either in Spain or with their GP on return.

The World Health Organisation has estimated the annual number of human rabies deaths to be in excess of 55,000 dogs and cats, due to their high level of contact with the human population and likelihood to bite, are the main risks to humans.

Rabies is an acute viral infection that is nearly always fatal.

The last case of rabies in England was in May 2012 when a patient was treated in a London hospital and had been bitten by a dog in South Asia. There was no risk to the general public.