Tuesday, 02 June, 2020

Norwegian woman dies after contracting rabies from stray puppy in Philippines

The 24 year-old Norwegian woman was bitten by The 24 year-old Norwegian woman was bitten by a puppy she rescued while on vacation in the Philippines
Gustavo Carr | 13 May, 2019, 10:30

Birgitte Kallestad of Norway went with her friends to the country in February. They were on mopeds when they saw a puppy which was a stray.

She washed and groomed the dog.

Doctors struggled to diagnose the problem and no one, including Birgitte, connected her illness to the dog bite.

The young dog quickly recovered and was again a few days later so fit that Brigitte and her family were raging with him in the garden and played.

Birgitte, a nurse, patched up and sterilised the scrapes herself.

But within a day of returning to Norway, Kallestad fell ill. She had been admitted for a week before she died.

Birgitte's family are now campaigning for rabies to be included on the program for the Philippines and other places where it is is possible to contract the disease from street animals.

Samples sent to the Public Health Authority in Sweden confirmed these suspicions on Saturday.

But it was too late.

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Kallestad was hospitalized multiple times, and her condition declined, and she was re-hospitalized. "Our fear is that this will happen to others who have a warm heart like her", the family statement said. Kallestad, who works at a Norwegian hospital, cleaned up her own tiny wounds but didn't think she needed any other medical help.

According to the Norwegian press, it has been more than 200 years since rabies was last detected on the Norwegian mainland.

"It's a terribly heavy case and a strain for the family", infectious disease consultant Jens Eikås told VG.

They called for a rabies vaccine to be added to a list of inoculations for people travelling to the Philippines.

Under Norwegian law, rabies vaccines are not compulsory.

Filipino children play at a broken fishing boat in Manila Bay in the Philippines in a file photo.

The disease kills thousands of people every year, mostly in Asia and Africa, where it is prevalent. According to the World Health Organisation, 99 per cent of rabies infections in humans are caused by dog bites.

A stray dog roams on the streets of Cainta municipality in the Philippines on September 28, 2013.