Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Location: UK Midlands
|Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2006 5:32 pm Post subject: Experts call for calm over rabbit flu
|Experts call for calm over rabbit flu
Matt Weaver and agencies
Monday August 21, 2006
Health experts today urged the public not to panic after a man died of rabbit flu.
John Freeman, a 29-year-old farmer, died earlier this month from blood poisoning that developed when he caught pasteuralla multocida - rabbit flu - from a rabbit he picked up on his farm after shooting it.
A post-mortem revealed the disease had developed into septicaemia.
Rabbit flu, a prevalent pet ailment, is the most common disease to spread from animals to humans.
A spokesman for the Heath Protection Agency said around half all dogs and cats were infected by pasteuralla multocida, and there were around 400 cases a year of it passing to humans.
However, he said the organisation was not aware of any other cases in which a person had died after catching the disease.
"There is no need to panic at all," the spokesman added. "It is not an uncommon infection - it's just uncommon that someone should die from it."
Mr Freeman's mother, Joan, of Aspall, Suffolk, said she was shocked there was so little information about the disease among the farming community.
She said she wanted to make people aware that handling dead rabbits could potentially be fatal, adding that she believed the bacteria had passed into her son's bloodstream via a blister on his thumb.
Doctors initially thought he had chicken pox because he developed a rash on his body. He died on August 5, four days after falling ill.
"Everyone is so appalled that he should die in this way," she said. "It's absolutely shocking, he was such a strong, strapping, healthy country man."
The death came amid growing anxiety over diseases that can spread from animals to humans.
A man in Scotland died from anthrax - the first fatality from the cattle disease in more than 30 years - last week, and there are continued concerns over the spread of bird flu.