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Woman 'critical' with rabies

A case of human rabies has been confirmed in Northern Ireland this week, following a reported dog bite which had occurred whilst the unnamed woman was holidaying abroad.

It is understood that the patient is from the greater Belfast area. She is being treated in intensive care in the Royal Victoria Hospital where she is reported to be in a critical condition.

The victim had been feeling unwell for some months since her return. A board spokesman said the risk to the wider public was minimal.

"The patient, who is being treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital, poses no risk to other patients or to visitors, and all its services are continuing as normal," he said. "All necessary steps on infection control are in place for the protection of staff."

He added: "There is no documented case of human to human transmission of rabies anywhere in the world. This means that any risk to other people is negligible."

Rabies is a notifiable disease in Northern Ireland and there had been no notifications of rabies in humans there since 1938, some 70 years. Rabies is extremely rare in the UK - there have only been 23 cases since 1946, the last in 2005. All infections were acquired abroad - the last case of human rabies involving a dog bite suffered in the UK was more than a century ago in 1902.

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