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Thread: Norwegian tourist dies of rabies after rescuing street dog in the Philippines

  1. #1
    Elite Member rollo's Avatar
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    Feb 2009

    Default Norwegian tourist dies of rabies after rescuing street dog in the Philippines

    Norwegian tourist, 24, dies of rabies after she's bitten by a puppy she rescued while on holiday in the Philippines

    • Birgitte Kallestad died Monday after contracting rabies from a dog she rescued
    • She and her friends sustained minor cuts and bites while playing with the puppy
    • The health worker began to feel unwell weeks after returning home to Norway
    • Doctors were stumped as rabies hasn't occurred in mainland Norway since 1815
    • Her family want rabies vaccines to become compulsory for the Philippines

    PUBLISHED: 12:02, 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:36, 10 May 2019


    Birgitte Kallestad, 24, from Norway, died on Monday after contracting rabies from a stray dog in the Philippines

    A Norwegian tourist has died of rabies after being bitten by a stray dog she rescued from the street in the Philippines.
    Birgitte Kallestad, 24, from Hordaland on the Norwegian west coast, died on Monday night - more than two months after coming into contact with the dog while travelling with friends in February.
    According to a statement from Birgitte's family, the group were out riding mopeds when they came across a stray puppy on the side of the road, which Birgitte carried into her basket and took back to the resort where she was staying.
    After washing and grooming the dog, Birgitte and her friends played with it in the garden.
    Birgitte's family said everyone sustained minor bites and scratches from the dog during this time - as most puppy owners do.
    Birgitte, who was a health worker employed at Førde central hospital, patched up and sterilized the scrapes herself. The cuts were so small that nobody saw the need for further medical supervision, the family said.
    It was only after the 24-year-old had returned home to Norway that she began to feel unwell.
    Initial symptoms of rabies include a fever and headaches, but as the disease worsens patients can suffer hallucinations, muscle spasms and respiratory failure.


    Birgitte's family described her as a 'sunbeam' with a warm heart who loved animals and just wanted to help



    Birgitte (pictured) was a health worker and patched up and sterilized the cuts herself. Nobody, least of all her, connected the dog's cuts with her illness months later

    Doctors struggled to diagnose the problem and no one, not even Birgitte herself, connected her illness to the dog bite.
    It has been over 200 years since rabies was last detected on the Norwegian mainland.
    She was hospitalized several times as her condition worsened, before eventually being admitted full time, the family said.


    Birgitte began to feel unwell weeks after returning home from the Philippines

    Finally, a doctor in the hospital in Førde suspected that Birgitte's symptoms were signs of rabies.
    Samples sent to the Public Health Authority in Sweden confirmed these suspicions on Saturday.
    Neither Birgitte nor anyone she was travelling with had been inoculated against the disease, because it is not on the list of vaccines required for the Philippines unless you plan to travel to areas with poor hygiene and sanitation.
    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.
    'Our dear Birgitte loved animals,' a family spokesperson said.
    'Our fear is that this will happen to others who have a warm heart like her. We want this vaccine to be included in the program for places where it can be rabies, and that people become aware of the dangers.'
    'If we manage to achieve this, the death of our sunbeam can save others.'
    Birgitte died on Monday night, eight days after being admitted to the hospital where she worked.


    Birgitte's family want rabies vaccines to become compulsory for those travelling to the Philippines, where street dogs can carry the viral disease (file image)

    'It's a terribly heavy case and a strain for the family,' infectious disease consultant Jens Eikås told VG.
    The others who were on the trip and who were also in contact with the dog have been alerted and Norway's health trust has so far been in contact with 77 people who have been in contact with the Birgitte.
    Of these, 31 have been vaccinated, according to local media.
    Rabies: Death from a scratch

    Rabies is a viral infection which targets the nervous system and the brain.
    It is deadly in 100 percent of cases left untreated - and has an incubation period of 20 to 60 days.
    It is only spread by infected animals to humans, most often through the animal biting or scratching the person.
    It can also be spread by an animal's saliva being in contact with a graze or cut on a human's skin. The majority of rabies cases result from being bitten by an infected dog.
    The symptoms of the illness include high temperatures, numbness at the area where the bite occurred and hallucinations. Some victims also have hydrophobia, which is a fear of water.
    There are about 55,000 cases of rabies worldwide each year with most cases occurring in Africa and Asia.
    Half of all rabies cases occur in India.

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  2. #2
    Elite Member Sarzy's Avatar
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    Dec 2007


    Poor woman. People should definitely be told to get a vaccination.
    BITTER, Novice, rollo and 1 others like this.

  3. #3
    Elite Member I'mNotBitter's Avatar
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    Sep 2012


    Very sad, but she should have known better than to mess with stray dogs in a country like that.
    A*O, Sleuth, teforde23 and 2 others like this.

  4. #4
    Elite Member BITTER's Avatar
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    Mar 2009


    This is so tragic. When I visited the Philippines back in the day, it never occurred to me to be wary of stray dogs or cats. The military was more concerned with STDs and malaria. This girl was so young and pretty. Her family must be devastated.

    I guess once you have rabies, they cannot do anything for you?
    Brookie, I'mNotBitter and LaFolie like this.
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  5. #5
    Elite Member Ravenna's Avatar
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    Mar 2007


    It has a long incubation period, which is why it is possible to get vaccinated after exposure, but once you come down with the symptoms, you're screwed. I have heard of two cases where they managed to save the victims with medically induced comas, but they were teenagers and it was miraculous. It pretty much has a 100% fatality rate.

    Poor girl. I hate to see anyone punished for having a tender heart and it's an awful way to go.
    Trixie, rollo, LaFolie and 4 others like this.

  6. #6
    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Wherever my kids are


    Plus, it was a puppy. I think even someone who has their radar up for rabies would probably think that a puppy wouldn't have it or be likely to deliver a penetrating bite. Although the article mentions that all that has to happen is that their saliva comes in contact with a cut in your skin.

  7. #7
    Elite Member ConstanceSpry's Avatar
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    Oct 2005


    ^^ If he licked her after her hands were scratched, that's how it could have been transmitted. The article mentioned others were scratched, wonder if they came down with it too?
    'I had to get rid of the kid. The cat was allergic.'

  8. #8
    Elite Member Trixie's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    exiled and ostrich sized


    Yikes. A sad reminder to those kind-hearted animal lovers (myself included) that trying to rescue a street dog could have dire consequences.

    And, a little off-topic, but several years ago I worked with a woman who had two dogs, she and her husband were doggy anti-vaxxers or something stupid. They would lock their dogs in the basement when they went to work, and one day a squirrel got in there and her dogs killed it. Both contracted rabies and had to be put down.

    Vaccinate your animals, people!!
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  9. #9
    czb is offline
    Elite Member czb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I'mNotBitter View Post
    Very sad, but she should have known better than to mess with stray dogs in a country like that.
    mr czb had to travel to taipei last month ... he went to a local vaccinations clinic to prepare for the trip. they specifically warned him not to pet any stray dogs/puppies/cats.

    i am sorry that this poor woman was not given the same advice.
    I'mNotBitter likes this.

  10. #10
    Elite Member funky_chicken's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
    in Charlie's Chocolate Factory


    I'm really bad, I can't resist and have to pet all strays. But that being said, if I'd ever get bitten or scratched, even by the most healthy looking little pupper, I'd go and get all the vaccines necessary and not necessary to prevent any diseases. It's a bit common sense, no?
    I'mNotBitter and LaFolie like this.

  11. #11
    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Wherever my kids are


    When we were in Thaliand last summer, there were a lot of dogs in the temple areas. They kept to themselves and didn't seem to be begging for food. They all seemed to be a similar breed and looked well fed and not to be messed with. I don't think my kids tried to pet a single dog while we were there, except for my SIL's Pomeranian. Anyway, I just looked up the rabies in Thailand and right before we got there, the entire country was racing to contain an outbreak after cases in animals were reported across every province (a total of 400 by March of 2018).
    rollo likes this.

  12. #12
    Bronze Member
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    May 2019


    Once you get bitten or scratch, you should go to a medical facility to be vaccinated.

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