Malawi: Confirmed Rabies Case In Puppy

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The Health Protection Agency has been made aware of a case of confirmed rabies in a puppy that may have been in contact with UK travellers at the Mabuya Camp backpacker lodge near Lilongwe (the capital of Malawi).

The Agency is asking anyone who stayed at the lodge between 28th October and 14th November and who had any contact with the puppy to seek medical advice. It is understood that around 75 UK travellers stayed during this time.

The Agency is working with staff at the lodge and other organisations to try and contact all the British travellers. The lodge has already been in touch with many of the visitors there during the time the puppy was ill, has posted information about the incident on its website and has informed companies who use the camp, as well as all backpacker hostels and camps within a 500 mile radius in neighbouring Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania.

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Everyone who was in contact with the puppy during the dates outlined above is advised to speak to a medical professional who will assess their risk. They may then be offered rabies vaccine as a precaution. For people who have returned to the UK they are advised to speak to their GP or NHS Direct. For those who are still travelling in Africa they can go to a medical clinic in their nearest large town or city.

Dr David Brown, a rabies expert at the Health Protection Agency, said: "Thanks to the prompt attention from the lodge's owners, information about this rabies case has been circulating widely within the backpacking community. We have already been in contact with a number of people who were staying there and these have been assessed and vaccinated if appropriate for their individual risk.

"Anyone who has family or friends who are travelling in Africa and may have stayed at the lodge should try to get in touch with them and advise them to visit a local medical professional if they might be affected. Anyone who has had any contact with this puppy such as having been bitten, scratched or licked around the eyes, mouth or on an open wound should seek prompt medical advice."

"This serves as a timely reminder to anybody due to travel to countries where rabies virus is common, such as Africa. Talk to your doctor or nurse about whether or not a rabies vaccine is appropriate. And remember not to touch animals when you are abroad as you cannot know that there is no risk."

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