British farmer dies from rabbit flu

An apparently healthy young farmer in Britain has died from rabbit flu.

John Freeman, a 29-year-old farmer, died earlier this month from blood poisoning which he contracted from a rabbit he picked up on his farm after shooting it.

Mr. Freeman of Aspall near Stowmarket in Suffolk, is believed to be Britain's first rabbit flu victim.

A post-mortem has revealed the disease had developed into septicaemia following blood poisoning which developed when he caught Pasteuralla multocida, rabbit flu, from the rabbit.

Rabbit flu is a common pet ailment and can spread from animals to humans.

The Heath Protection Agency in the UK says around fifty percent of all dogs and cats are infected by Pasteuralla multocida and each year there are around 400 cases of it being passed on to humans.

The organisation is unaware of any other cases in which a person had died after catching the disease and say there is no need for the public to panic as even though it is a common infection, it is uncommon for someone to die from it.

Mr Freeman's mother says she is shocked there is so little information about the disease among the farming community and says people should be aware aware that handling dead rabbits could potentially be fatal.

She believes the bacteria passed into her son's bloodstream through a blister on his thumb.

Initially doctors thought Mr Freeman had chicken pox because he developed a rash on his body; he died on August 5, four days after becoming ill.

His death has come amid growing concern over diseases that can spread from animals to humans.

It follows another recent death in Scotland where a man died from anthrax, the first fatality from the cattle disease in more than 30 years and fears over the spread of bird flu continue to frighten people.

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