Woman dies of rabies after bite from stray puppy she saved

In the first rabies death in Norway in 200 years, a woman passed away on Monday evening after being bitten by a puppy she rescued while holidaying in the Philippines more than two months ago, reports say.

Birgitte Kallestad, 24, who worked in a hospital, saw an injured puppy lying by the roadside during a scooter ride with her friends in February.

Kallestad took the puppy to the resort where she and her friends were staying and nursed him back to health.  

Later while playing with the puppy in the resort’s garden, he nipped their fingers and all of them suffered minor bites and scratches which they sterilised. But none of them took vaccination against rabies.

Kallestad fell ill weeks after she returned to Norway and resumed duty at Forde hospital.

Initially, doctors did not link her symptoms to rabies. But she was put into intensive care at Forde last week after being diagnosed with rabies.

Kallestad’s parents said other families should not suffer the loss of a child like them adding that vaccination against rabies should be available in countries where deaths due to rabies are common.

Every year, rabies claims some 59,000 human lives, most of them in Asia, Africa and South America.

Rabies is transferred from an infected dog’s saliva. While initial symptoms of rabies are fever, fatigue and headache, those infected will suffer inflammation of the brain and hallucinations as the virus spreads.