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She Saved a Stray. Then, What Norway Hasn't Seen in 200 Years

Birgitte Kallestad died of rabies 2 months after she played with pup in the Philippines
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2019 1:53 PM CDT
Make sure you're vaccinated if you're traveling to trouble spots.   (Getty Images/CactusStudio)

(Newser) – What should have been a feel-good story has since turned tragic. The BBC reports on the turn of events that started in the Philippines in February, where 24-year-old Birgitte Kallestad was on vacation with friends. Per a statement given to the Daily Mail, via the New York Post, Kallestad and her pals were zipping around on mopeds when they spotted a stray puppy on the side of the road. Kallestad put the dog in her bike basket and the group went back to their resort. They all bathed and played with the puppy, which gave its new friends small bites and scratches during their playtime. Kallestad, who works at a Norwegian hospital, cleaned up her own tiny wounds but didn't think she needed any other medical help. That proved to be a fatal mistake.

Soon after Kallestad returned home she started feeling ill, but she didn't tie it to her puppy interaction, and during multiple visits to the hospital, doctors weren't initially thinking rabies—until she was sick enough to be admitted full time at the Forde hospital where she worked. A physician finally suspected rabies, and tests confirmed Kallestad had the disease on Saturday. It was too late: She died Monday, eight days after she'd been admitted. It's the first rabies-related death in Norway in more than 200 years. Even though many countries are on a list that recommends tourists get rabies vaccines before visiting, the Philippines wasn't on it, and Kallestad's family is now trying to change that. "If we manage to achieve this, the death of our sunbeam can save others," a family rep says. (Read more rabies stories.)

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