Date: Tue 2 Apr 2019
From: Sher Bahadur Pun <email@example.com> [edited]
Subject: Rabies (Qatar), raccoon bite, Nuwakot district, Nepal
A 26-year old male, resident of Likhu-4, Nuwakot district [Nepal], died of rabies 3 days ago in Doha, Qatar. According to his relatives, a raccoon bit him 6 months ago [which means, in early October 2018]. He then went to a nearby medical shop 3 days after the bite for antirabies vaccine and counseling. Unfortunately, the victim returned home without vaccination after he was counselled that he was late for vaccination.
According to his roommate in Qatar, he felt loss of consciousness in the workplace and later developed hydrophobia with other neurological symptoms.
In the past 4 months at least 8 rabies cases (all dog bite cases) were registered at Sukraraj Tropical & Infectious Disease Hospital, who later died of its complications. This is, however, the 1st known case of rabies due to raccoon bite in Nepal.
Sher Bahadur Pun, MD
Clinical Research Unit,
Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital,
[ProMED-mail thanks Dr Sher Bahadur Pun for submitting the report above and for the complementary information he kindly provided to us later, as follows:
1. The patient departed for Qatar on 23 Feb 2019.
2. His family wished him buried in Nepal, but Qatar's law did not allow such transportation. Eventually he was buried in Qatar, in the presence of family members, on Sun 7 Apr 2019.
3. When the bad news from Qatar was received in Nepal, the brother of the patient came to Dr Pun's hospital in Kathmandu to consult post-exposure treatment, due to his close contact with the patient prior to the latter's departure for Qatar.
4. The brother informed that the victim died at Hamad Hospital in Doha.
5. Dr Pun informs that, according to the victim's brother, the animal which had bitten the patient 6 months ago is locally known as "KatheBagh"; it is "raccoon-like, known to climb and live in trees." In response to a question, the brother insisted that the animal was not a red panda (sometimes popularly named "Himalayan raccoon"), an indigenous animal he claimed to be familiar with.
The following issues deserve to be underlined:
1. The patient's flight to Qatar, on 23 Feb 2019, took place almost 5 months post apparent exposure and about 5 weeks before his death (date of commencement of clinical signs is not available; date of death 30/31 Mar 2019).
2. A rabies incubation period exceeding 5 months is relatively long although not really exceptional.
3. Though, theoretically, an exposure in Qatar, followed by an incubation period, deserves to be considered. However, this is a remote scenario: Qatar's most recent rabies case in animals was reported in 2009. - ProMED Mod.AS]
[The possible animal source of this rabies case, though uncertain, is also noteworthy. Red pandas, which have a distinctive raccoon-like face, are now classified in their own family, "Ailuridae", distinct from Pyocyanidae, the New World family that includes raccoons. Another possibility (also suggested by Dr. Pun) is the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), which is one of only two canid species known to regularly climb trees, and would thus fit the habitat described above. However, it is not clear that the range of this latter East Asian species extends to Nepal. - ProMED Mod.LXL]