Published: 24th May 2012 11:38:35
A rare case of rabies has been confirmed in London, the Health Protection Agency has confirmed.
But how common is the disease worldwide - and how is it being tackled?
What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system.
It is a zoonotic disease - one passed on to humans from animals. It is transmitted via saliva from infected animals - most commonly dogs.
Bats can also be a source of infection. But deaths after exposure to foxes, racoons, jackals and other wild carnivores are rare.
How does it develop?
The incubation period is usually between two and eight weeks - though it can be longer. It affects the central nervous system and initial symptoms include anxiety, headaches and fever.
As it spreads through the central nervous system, progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops.
There are two forms of the disease.
The "furious" form develops rapidly. Patients display signs such as hyperactivity and death occurs within days due to respiratory arrest.
"Paralytic" rabies accounts for around 30% of cases. It develops less rapidly. Muscles gradually become paralysed, a coma slowly develops eventually leading to death.
Rabies can only be diagnosed once symptoms have developed.
Can it be passed between people?
There are no documented cases - but those close to someone who is infected will sometimes be offered immunisation as a precaution.
How common is rabies?
There are over 55,000 a year worldwide, with most cases in developing countries, most in south and south-east Asia.
Around 40% of people bitten are children aged under 15 and the majority of those are boys.
Rabies occurs in more than 150 countries and territories, according to the World Health Organization.
It is extremely rare in the UK. There have only been four deaths since 2000 - all in people who were bitten by dogs abroad.
The last case where someone was infected in the UK occurred in 1922, the last death from indigenous rabies was in 1902.
In 2003, it was recognised UK bats may carry a rabies-like virus. A man who worked as a bat-handler died from the infection, which was probably acquired in Scotland.
What is the advice if someone is going to a country where rabies is present?
Talk to your doctor or nurse about whether or not you need to be vaccinated.
Avoid contact with dogs, cats and other animals wherever possible.
If you are bitten, scratched or licked by a warm-blooded animal was the affected area immediately with plenty of soap and water and seek medical advice without delay.
You may be given the rabies vaccine as it is still effective even if given some time after exposure.
Can it be controlled?
The best way of preventing human infection is to eliminate rabies infections in animals through vaccination, the WHO says.
At 07:00:12 in WalesCampaigners calling for a Cardiff reservoir to re-open will visit the prime minister to press their case to restore fishing and sailing there.
At 06:59:50 in EnglandA man and woman found dead in a Nottinghamshire house were stabbed, it has been confirmed.
At 06:56:53 in BusinessGeneral Motors has asked a US court to bar some lawsuits relating to its recall over faulty ignition switches.
At 06:55:04 in EnglandOne person has been arrested after three children were found dead at an address in south London.
At 06:38:57 in Northern IrelandThe Orange Order and a republican ex-prisoners' organisation have lent their support to a new course at Queen's University (QUB) that examines the use of public space to express identity.
At 06:36:03 in Northern IrelandTwo tributes to the late poet Seamus Heaney are to be held in Dublin later.
At 06:32:35 in EnglandA man has been charged following a fire at a house in Teesside.
At 06:16:09 in Northern IrelandAn ex-IRA man has made new allegations about Gerry Adams, in which he raises questions about the Sinn Féin leader's claim to have never been in the IRA.
At 06:11:26 in EnglandThe number of rats being reported by the public across Cornwall has increased by almost 50% in the past 12 months, council figures have revealed.
At 06:05:27 in EnglandSix historical buildings have been added to a register of "at risk" properties in Gloucester.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Q&A: Rabies [Online] (Updated 24th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1430648/Q-A-Rabies [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
A man and woman found dead in a Nottinghamshire house were stabbed, it has been confirmed.
Veteran archer Alison Williamson will not bid for a record-breaking seventh Olympic appearance in Rio after deciding to retire from the sport.
General Motors has asked a US court to bar some lawsuits relating to its recall over faulty ignition switches.
Maconochie's stew was a household name during World War One. The tinned "meat and vegetable rations" were welcomed by some troops but others described them as a "man-killer". They also had an unfortunate side-effect.
Campaigners calling for a Cardiff reservoir to re-open will visit the prime minister to press their case to restore fishing and sailing there.
A meeting to determine how the internet should be governed gets underway in Sao Paulo, Brazil later.