Experts shock at rabbit flu

ANIMAL experts have today reacted with shock to the sudden death of a Suffolk man believed to have died from rabbit flu.

ANIMAL experts have today reacted with shock to the sudden death of a Suffolk man believed to have died from rabbit flu.

As revealed in The Evening Star on Saturday John Freeman, 29, of Aspall, collapsed and died following an evening shooting rabbits.

His flu-like symptoms fooled people into believing his condition was not serious but within four days he was dead.

The news has shocked animal-lovers nationwide, including Suffolk people who have now expressed concerns about possible dangers around rabbits.

Diane Rogerson, of Elmcroft Road, Ipswich, who runs a rabbit rescue centre caring for around 50 animals, said she had never heard of anything similar happening before.

She said: “I have never even been told that rabbit flu is contagious to humans and have never considered the risk.”

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Ms Rogerson said it was important for people with pet rabbits to get expert advice if they believe their animal is suffering from flu-like symptoms such as weeping eyes.

She said: “If your rabbit is showing those symptoms you need to get it checked out with a vet and if it is a confirmed case of rabbit flu make sure hygiene is spot-on and thoroughly clean any bites or scratches.”

Former gamekeeper George Utting, 69, of Bucklesham, said he was equally shocked by the news.

He said: “I have never heard of a problem with rabbits, it's a new one on me.

“I am very surprised. I have handled wild rabbits in my time but have never caught anything.”

More than 500 people attended Mr Freeman's funeral on Thursday.

His parents described him as a fun man who had many friends.

Have you come across rabbit flu before? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

Brian Harvey, 70, of London Road, Ipswich, said: “I thought it was terrible. I was really shocked about it. The thought of a rabbit killing a man seems laughable but it is clearly very serious. You wouldn't think something like that would happen. It surprised me when I saw it.”

John Mayhew, 71, of Wynton Rise, Stowmarket, said: “I have never heard of something like this before. “It has definitely surprised me. “You just don't think that sort of thing will happen.”

John Green, 60, of Hampton Road, Ipswich, said: “To be honest I couldn't believe it as it's not the sort of thing you hear of every day. “I think it makes me concerned about wild rabbits, I have never really liked them.”

Julie Oldring, 60, of north east Ipswich, said: “It's scary. It certainly makes you think. People go on and on about bird flu but I have never heard of rabbit flu. If my job entailed going places where wild rabbits are or handling them I would be worried.”

Pat Winter, 57, of Glanville Place, Kesgrave, said: “It is really frightening. “It would be interesting to know where rabbit flu has come from.”

June Chenery, 46, of Ross Road, Rushmere St Andrew, said: “It shocked me as it is not something you would usually expect. My grandson has got a rabbit at home and it makes you wonder if it is just wild rabbits or if pet rabbits are a danger.”