Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Woman tests positive for rabies

Rabies warning poster
The last case of rabies in Northern Ireland was in 1938

A critically ill woman has contracted rabies, tests have confirmed.

The Eastern Health Board said the risk to other people is "negligible". The woman is a patient in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

"There is no documented case of human-to-human transmission of rabies anywhere in the world," said the board.

It added that the patient had previously been overseas in an area associated with rabies in animals and may have been bitten there.

"The patient poses no risk to other patients or to visitors, and all its services are continuing as normal," a statement from the board said.

"All necessary steps on infection control are in place for the protection of staff."

The disease is extremely rare and the last case in Northern Ireland was in 1938.

The Eastern board said it was taking advice from the Health Protection Agency and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

Other agencies working with the board include the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture and the Communicable Diseases Surveillance Centre (Northern Ireland).

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