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Man who died after getting bitten by rabid cat in Morocco named

A cat being vaccinated against rabies. Credit: PA

A man who died after being bitten by a cat with rabies while in Morocco has been named.

Omar Zouhri, 58, of Aylesbury, died earlier this month following a holiday to North Africa.

But it is understood that he was bitten a few weeks ago and was not given immediate, potentially life-saving, treatment.

Public Health England (PHE) issued a warning to travellers after the UK resident contracted the disease after being bitten by a rabid cat.

Prompt care, including wound cleaning and a course of the rabies vaccine, is very effective and can save an infected person's life.

It is believed that he sought care both in Morocco and when at home after being bitten.

No more details have been released by officials about the case.

Rabies vaccination Credit: PA

"My understanding is that this is somebody who had contact with a cat that was behaving abnormally and sought care, I believe in Morocco and in the UK, but unfortunately didn't receive vaccination until it was too late.

"I believe that the cat bit this person a few weeks ago.

"The typical time interval (for symptoms to appear) is two to three months, so you do have enough time (to seek care).

"But it can be as short as a week and that's why seeking prompt care and getting vaccination is so important.

"In this tragic case the person didn't get the vaccine in time.

"It is hard to know from the information provided, the delay could have been Morocco, the delay could have been in the UK.

"So one of the messages is that health workers must be clued in to the possibility of rabies. "There are high stakes, you must not get it wrong."

– Professor Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

PHE said there is "no risk" to the wider public but as a precautionary measure, health workers and close contacts have been offered vaccination if necessary.

Rabies does not circulate in either wild or domestic animals in the UK, but between 2000 and 2017 five UK residents became infected with rabies after "animal exposures abroad".

The last recorded rabies case in Britain was in 2012 when a UK resident was bitten by a dog in South Asia.

“We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Zouhri.

"We can confirm that Mr Zouhri attended Stoke Mandeville Hospital before being transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford as the regional referral centre for infectious diseases.

"Given that deaths from rabies are so rare in this country, we have already begun our own internal review of Mr Zouhri's care and understand that an inquest into his death will be opened in due course.

"It is therefore not appropriate to make any further comment until the inquest has concluded.

"However, if the family have any concerns about the care they received at our hospital, we would encourage them to get in touch and discuss them with us."

– Dr Tina Kenny, medical director of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust