Bird flu may be out of the headlines, but are shooters still in danger from animal infections? Earlier this month a farmer originally believed to be suffering from chicken pox died of so-called rabbit flu. John Freeman, of Aspall, near Stowmarket, Suffolk, became infected with the bacteria pasteurella multocida after picking up a rabbit while out lamping.

Mr Freeman died of septicaemia after becoming infected with the bacteria. A spokesman from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) told ST: ?This is not the first time someone has been infected. We have 400 or so cases a year, but symptoms are usually a localised skin infection, which is easily treatable. This man isn?t the first person to die after becoming infected, but it is extremely rare. Around 50 per cent of domestic cats and dogs carry the pasteurella multocida bacteria, and we advise people dealing with animals thoroughly to clean any wounds to prevent infection.

Following that, a simple course of antibiotics usually takes care of things. There is nothing out of the ordinary to worry about; if you have a nasty dog or cat scratch or bite, antibiotics can be prescribed to stop infection, but general hygiene is very important.? For more information on pasteurella multocida, visit www.hpa.org.uk