Dog owners have been urged to have their pets vaccinated against rabies, one week after it was confirmed that a Filipino domestic helper died from the condition. A spokeswoman from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said: 'Although the woman in last week's case was infected outside Hong Kong, it showed what a devastating and tragic disease rabies can be. We cannot afford to be complacent in keeping this disease out of Hong Kong.' To ensure an adequate level of protection, dogs must be vaccinated every three years, she said. The department has recently stepped up its anti-rabies programme by conducting more visits to villages to vaccinate dogs and eliminate strays. From January to September, 9,400 stray dogs were caught. About 94,000 dogs are vaccinated and licensed. A World Health Organisation consultant said the detection of a case of human rabies did not pose a health risk in Hong Kong. 'We support control measures taken by the Hong Kong Government,' said Dr Hitoshi Oshitani, regional adviser in communicable disease surveillance at the WHO Western Pacific region. He said he was not surprised that Hong Kong doctors were not able to diagnose rabies in the latest case. 'It is actually very difficult to make a diagnosis of rabies in non-endemic areas. Even in endemic areas, it is not easy unless the patient has a history of a bite by an animal and a typical clinical picture, which are not always the case,' he added. He said vaccinating Filipino maids against rabies was not an effective measure. The latest victim, Lorna Capayan, 37, was treated at United Christian Hospital for viral encephalitis. She died on September 28. Results of a postmortem examination announced last Monday found she had died of rabies.