A TOURIST who contracted rabies when she was bitten by a dog in the Indian resort of Goa has died in hospital.
Alison Dwerryhouse, 39, from Bury, Greater Manchester was a victim of the holiday destination’s notorious packs of stray dogs which roam the streets and beaches.
She was bitten during the trip in April but it was only after she returned home to with her husband Philip that she complained of feeling ill. The shop assistant was admitted to the town’s Fairfield General Hospital for treatment.
Once rabies was diagnosed, she was transferred to the Walton Centre in Liverpool, a specialist centre for neurology and neurosurgery.
Despite intensive treatment, Mrs Dwerryhouse died from the disease. A spokesman for the Health Protection Agency confirmed that the infection had been contracted abroad. The agency was quick to assure members of the public that they were not at risk but said that hospital staff had been offered inoculations as a precautionary measure. So far nobody else is thought to have contracted the disease.
Goa, situated on the west coast of India is an increasingly popular holiday destination for thousands of tourists. Its temperate climate, verdant countryside, empty beaches, cosmopolitan atmosphere and cheap prices are all a great attraction. However, large packs of stray dogs roaming the streets, beaches and tourist spots have become a controversial issue.
The island is well known as a pocket of rabies infection on the Indian sub-continent, where around 30,000 die from the disease each year.
The Goa Society for the Protection of Animals blames Goans for discarding unwanted puppies and old or sick animals on the street. Attempts to have strays put down have fallen foul of the animal rights lobby. The society has started a campaign encouraging people not to feed the dogs. They have also set up regular anti-rabies vaccination camps to run alongside a sterilisation programme.
Rabies, or "hydrophobia", is an acute viral infection, which is transmitted to human beings in saliva when they are bitten by an infected animal. The vaccine needs to be administered swiftly after a bite. By the time the symptoms appear they can often no longer be treated and almost always lead to the patient’s death.
An infected animal becomes aggressive and will often bite a human without provocation. Once the disease enters the body, it affects the nervous system and the brain, which becomes inflamed, although symptoms can take anywhere between three weeks to three months to develop.
The World Health Organisation estimates up to 70,000 people die of rabies each year.