A rabbit that a young farmer shot on his family's farm near Stowmarket Suffolk, has caused his death leading to UK's first case of death by rabbit flu.
John Freeman, 29, had become infected with the bacteria pasteurella multocida after he had picked up a rabbit on his farm. His mother explained that he subsequently fell the following day and succumbed to the infection after three days.
It was revealed by the post-mortem report that Mr Freeman had died from septicaemia after having got infected by the bacteria that causes pasteurellosis, which is also known as rabbit flu. Mr Freeman, the couple's only son, died on August 5 four days after falling ill
A spokesman for the Heath Protection Agency explained that the bacteria was known to be very common among many domestic animals, which would also include cats and dogs, but he was not aware of any other fatal rabbit-to-human transmission. He further explained that there were probably only a few cases of humans being infected in a year by pasteurella multocida, which is commonly from dogs and cats, and even then deaths were fairly uncommon.
Mrs Freeman, who along with her husband Peter, run a farm at Aspall, near Stowmarket in Suffolk, said that she was surprised that there was so little an information about the disease among the farming community. She had expressed her opinion that people have to be made aware about the potential, fatal risks that might be involved with the handling dead rabbits. She said, "People should just be aware that there is this dreadful thing around and potentially its lethal. Once it is in the blood stream, that's it."