London: A British woman who contracted rabies after being bitten by a dog during a recent visit to India has died, making her first victim of the disease in the country since 2002, health officials announced last night.
The unnamed woman was being treated was diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening disease at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London.
Another case of rabies has been reported from Leeds, where the patient sought medical help for a dog bite which occurred abroad.
The two cases are not linked, officials said.
A statement from University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "We regret to announce that a patient being treated for rabies by the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and colleagues at University College Hospital died over the weekend.
"Health officials said world-wide it was estimated that the annual number of human rabies deaths to be in excess of 55,000 with most occurring in developing countries, particularly South and South East Asia.
Since the incidence of rabies is considered extremely rare in Britain, health officials have issued special guidance after the deceased woman was diagnosed after returning from India.”
Brian McCloskey, Director of the Health Protection Agency, said: "It is important to stress that there is no risk to the general public as a result of this case or to patients and visitors at the hospital where the patient is receiving treatment."
He added: "Despite there being tens of thousands of rabies cases each year worldwide, there have been no documented laboratory confirmed cases of human-to-human spread.
Therefore the risk to other humans or animals from a patient with rabies is considered negligible."