A Norwegian tourist has died of rabies after being bitten by a stray dog she rescued from the street in the Philippines.

Birgitte Kallestad, 24, from Hordaland on the Norwegian west coast, died on Monday night - more than two months after coming into contact with the dog while travelling with friends in February.

According to a statement from Birgitte's family, the group were out riding mopeds when they came across a stray puppy on the side of the road, which Birgitte carried into her basket and took back to the resort where she was staying.

After washing and grooming the dog, Birgitte and her friends played with it in the garden.

Birgitte's family said everyone sustained minor bites and scratches from the dog during this time - as most puppy owners do.

Birgitte, who was a health worker employed at Førde central hospital, patched up and sterilized the scrapes herself.

The cuts were so small that nobody saw the need for further medical supervision, the family said.

It was only after the 24-year-old had returned home to Norway that she began to feel unwell.

Initial symptoms of rabies include a fever and headaches, but as the disease worsens patients can suffer hallucinations, muscle spasms and respiratory failure.

Doctors struggled to diagnose the problem and no one, not even Birgitte herself, connected her illness to the dog bite.

It has been over 200 years since rabies was last detected on the Norwegian mainland.

She was hospitalized several times as her condition worsened, before eventually being admitted full time, the family said.

Finally, a doctor in the hospital in Førde suspected that Birgitte's symptoms were signs of rabies.

Samples sent to the Public Health Authority in Sweden confirmed these suspicions on Saturday.

Neither Birgitte nor anyone she was travelling with had been inoculated against the disease, because it is not on the list of vaccines required for the Philippines unless you plan to travel to areas with poor hygiene and sanitation.

Birgitte's family are now campaigning for rabies to be included on the program for the Philippines and other places where it is is possible to contract the disease from street animals.

'Our dear Birgitte loved animals,' a family spokesperson said.

'Our fear is that this will happen to others who have a warm heart like her. We want this vaccine to be included in the program for places where it can be rabies, and that people become aware of the dangers.'

'If we manage to achieve this, the death of our sunbeam can save others.'

Birgitte died on Monday night, eight days after being admitted to the hospital where she worked.