A grandmother from the UK who had contracted rabies in India passed away last night in the isolation unit at University College Hospital, London, where she was undergoing treatment for the disease.
This is the first case of rabies to occur in England in seven years. The woman is believed to have contracted the disease from a puppy during her visit to India. She was turned away on three separate occasions by NHS staff after failing to diagnose her illness. Her first visit to her GP was two weeks ago when she began to feel ill.
Two days later, she went to the A&E unit at Darent Valley hospital in Dartford, Kent, to visit relatives or friends admitted there, only to be sent home again. She returned the next day but the hospital refused to admit her, believing she was suffering from a mild illness.
Only after she visited her GP a second time, which was four days after the first appointment, that she was referred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, South-East London, with suspected rabies. The hospital sent her on to UCLH which has specialists in certain rare illnesses.
Rabies is a viral infection which affects nervous system and brain. The disease can spread by infected animal’s biting, scratching the person, or the animal’s saliva coming in contact with a wound or cut on the human skin.
The symptoms of rabies include high temperatures, numbness at the area where the bite occurred and hallucinations. In the UK, most rabies cases occur from people infected abroad or from quarantined animals.