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Friday 22nd June 2018

First 'rabbit flu' victim

21st August 2006

21082006_rabbit1.jpgA farmer from Suffolk has died from rabbit flu in what is considered the first time that the bacterium has been fatally passed from animal to human in this country.

The farmer, John Freeman, became infected with the bacterium Pasteurella multocida after picking up a rabbit he had shot on his farm. After he became ill with fever the next day doctors initially suspected flu or chickenpox. However, following his death in hospital three days later from septicaemia, a postmortem examination showed that he was infected with the bacterium that causes pasteurellosis, which is known as rabbit flu or snuffles.

The bacterium is common in many animals, including domestic cats and dogs, but vets had never known of a fatal rabbit-to-human transmission previously. His parents called for greater awareness of the disease, which is treatable by antibiotics if diagnosed in time.

According to the Health Protection Agency there were only a handful of cases of humans each year being infected with Pasteurella multocida, usually from dogs or cats, and that deaths were very rare.

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