In an effort to rescue a stray puppy, a 24-year-old Norwegian woman has died after contracting rabies.
Birgitte Kallestad was holidaying in the Philippines with friends when they found the puppy on a street, her family said in a statement.
The puppy is believed to have infected her when it bit her while they were playing, according to the BBC.
Ms Kallestad, who worked at a Norwegian hospital, had sterilised the “small scrapes” given by the puppy, but sought no more medical attention, the family’s statement says.
“Our dear Birgitte loved animals,” her family said. “Our fear is that this will happen to others who have a warm heart like her”.
Ms Kallestad fell ill shortly after returning home to Norway, then died this week in the hospital she worked. It is the first death by rabies in more than 200 years, the BBC reported.
She sought medical attention several times upon returning home but doctors were unable to diagnose what was wrong.
Thousands of people die every year from rabies, mostly in Asia and Africa. Rabies is treatable but, if left untreated, it can cause a life-threatening infection of the brain and nervous system in humans.
Senior Medical Officer at the Institute Sir Feruglio told the BBC it was important people seek medical attention, even if they are vaccinated, if they come in contact with an infected animal.
“This is a disease that’s endemic in 150 countries and it’s a huge health problem,” he said.