Friends, family and even people who didn’t know him have been sending messages of love and support to the family of canoeist Graeme Anderson, 29, who died on Friday after being bitten by a rabid dog last month.

On Friday afternoon, Anderson’s family switched off the life-support machines that had been keeping him alive after tests revealed that he was brain-dead.

Anderson was admitted to hospital five weeks ago after he was infected with rabies.

A Facebook support group was set up soon after he was admitted and it has since been inundated with posts from people sending their condolences.

An acquaintance of Anderson, Caroline Dekker wrote: “I hardly knew Graeme, but it looks to me that he lived more life than people in their 80s already. It looks like he didn’t take one day for granted.”

The spokesman for the family, Dr Grant Lindsay, said:

“I have known Graeme since he was six years old; he was an amazing young man, very healthy… fit and very polite.”

Anderson was an extreme sports enthusiast and his canoeing career earned him international recognition.

He leaves his mother, Trish, father, Mark, and sister, Kerry. The family hopes his death will raise awareness of rabies and will “help save many lives in the future”.

A memorial will be held for him in Underberg next week.