Norwegian woman dies after playing with a puppy on holiday

A blonde woman smiling for the camera.
Photo credit: Facebook/Birgette Kallestad

A Norwegian woman has died after contracting rabies while on holiday with her friends in the Philippines.

Birgitte Kallestad, 24, is thought to have been infected by a puppy the group took back to their resort and played with, BBC News reports.

It's believed Kallestad was bitten by the puppy. Her family says she sterilised the "small scrapes" she received playing with the dog, but did not seek any further medical attention.

The best treatment for rabies is a course of vaccinations immediately after exposure. Travellers can also get vaccinated before they go to the country, but will still need treatment if they're exposed to the virus.

Kallestad visited the emergency room several times when she returned to Norway, but it took doctors too long to diagnose her condition.

She died on Monday, becoming the first rabies-related death in Norway for more than 200 years.

Her family said in a statement they're fearful others will contract the virus.

"Our dear Birgitte loved animals... Our fear is that this will happen to others who have a warm heart like her."

Sir Feruglio, a Senior Medical Officer at Norway's Institute of Public Health, told BBC News it's very important people seek medical assistance after contact with animals.

"Even if you've been vaccinated before you travel, if you do have contact [with a potentially infected animal] you need to go to a local health clinic for a second vaccination.

"This is a disease that's endemic in 150 countries and it's a huge health problem."