Family pays tribute to rabies victim


Family and friends paid tribute to a woman who died after contracting rabies abroad.

Lisa McMurray (35), had been in a critical condition in isolation at the intensive care unit Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital since the condition was diagnosed last month.

Her death last night was confirmed in a statement from her family.

Ms McMurray had been in Africa a number of times over the last couple of years but began to feel unwell after being home for several months. It is thought she contracted the virus, for which there is no cure, after being bitten by a dog.

Her three brothers said they had been devastated by her death but proud of the bravery with which she faced the illness.

In a family statement - her parents are already dead - they said: “We are devastated by the loss of our sister Lisa. We are extremely proud not only of all she achieved in life but also of the bravery with which she fought her illness.

“Her courage was inspiring and typical of the passionate and determined way in which she led her life. Her loss will leave a huge hole in all our lives and her family and friends will miss her terribly.”

It is believed she may have been infected as far back as December 2006 while working in an animal sanctuary in South Africa. She sent home emails at the time detailing how she had been scratched while separating two dogs. One of the animals had to be put down after it started foaming at the mouth.

Ms McMurray worked as the communications officer at the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau in the city centre until early last year before moving to the Cats Protection NI Adoption Centre at Dundonald on the city outskirts.

Last March she returned briefly to the South African sanctuary and some months after returning home started to feel unwell.