New Zealand revealed its first case of rabies on Thursday, saying the viral disease had claimed the life of a patient who contracted it abroad, but there was no risk to the public.
The Ministry of Health said that doctors applied “all infection control measures” in the two hospitals where the patient was treated, first in Whangarei (North) and then in the neighboring city of Auckland.
“Transmission of rabies from person to person is extremely rare, almost unknown, and therefore there is no danger to the public,” the ministry said in a statement.
Rabies is usually transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal that bites a person.
The patient, who has not been identified, was suspected of having the disease when he was admitted to hospital in early March.
Lab results later confirmed it was the first case of rabies in New Zealand, which has a population of five million.
“New Zealand has no rabies in animals or humans, and this condition does not affect our status as a rabies-free country,” the Department of Health said.
“Travelers should be aware that thousands of cases of rabies in humans are reported every year around the world, including in a number of countries in our region,” said Director of Public Health Nick Jones.
He urged people to get vaccinated before traveling to countries where rabies is common.