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Man dies after pet hamster bites him

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SAITAMA, Japan, Sep 28, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A man died from asthma after being bitten several times by his pet hamster in a city north of Tokyo, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Tuesday.

The man, who was in his 40s, suffered from an allergic disease called anaphylaxis after the hamster's saliva entered his body, setting off asthmatic symptoms.

Even before being admitted to the hospital, his heart and lungs had stopped functioning. He died shortly afterwards.

The incident occurred in February at the Saitama Red Cross Hospital in Saitama prefecture, the paper said.

Anaphylaxis is an allergic disease that occurs when protein or other foreign substances enter the body multiple times and the immunity system becomes oversensitive. The disease quickly paralyzes circulatory organs or respiratory organs.

An autopsy found the man had a sharp allergic reaction to protein contained in the hamster's saliva.

Even though 17 cases of anaphylaxis caused by pets have been reported in Japan since 1995, it is quite rare that such an allergic disease causes death.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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