A Norwegian tourist who found a stray puppy while on a trip to the Philippines died on Monday after allegedly getting infected with rabies and not receiving treatment.
Birgitte Kallestad, 24, spotted the puppy on the side of the road in February, her family told Norway’s state-owned broadcaster NRK, USA Today reported.
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When she brought the puppy to where they were staying, she fed it and gave it a bath. That’s when the animal bit her fingers and she sustained small cuts.
Kallestad, who was a health worker, merely washed her wounds and ignored the wounds, the BBC reported.
She became ill shortly after returning to Norway and consulted doctors multiple times. However, none of the doctors who examined her condition connected her symptoms to rabies.
It was reportedly the first rabies-related death in the Scandinavian country in 200 years, according to doctors.
“Our dear Birgitte loved animals,” her family was quoted as saying. “Our fear is that this will happen to others who have a warm heart like her.”
If detected immediately, the progression of rabies, a viral disease that infects the central nervous system, can still be prevented with post-exposure vaccines.
Initial symptoms include fever, headache, and discomfort, which may indicate other diseases as well. Later stages of the disease exhibit other symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing and fear of water.
Contracting rabies remains a “high risk” in the Philippines, according to the World Health Organization in 2013.