Man Who Refused Treatment After Getting Bit by Bat Dies From Rabies, Illinois’ First Case in 70 Years

A man in northern Illinois died of rabies about a month after presumably being bitten by a bat he discovered in his room, health authorities said Tuesday, marking the state’s first human case of the illness since 1954.

Last month, the guy in his eighties awoke to find a bat on his neck at his Lake County, Illinois, house. The guy refused postexposure therapy after the bat tested positive for rabies, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

According to health officials, the guy began to experience neck discomfort, headaches, numbness in his fingers, difficulties moving his arms, and difficulty speaking around a month after his exposure.

Testing for Rabies

Scientist running some tests in the lab

(Photo : Getty Images)

After testing at its lab, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) verified the man’s diagnosis on Tuesday.

IDPH claimed wildlife specialists discovered a bat colony in the man’s area of residence.

In a news release, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike stated, “Rabies has the highest death rate of any disease.” “However, there is a life-saving therapy for people who seek medical help right after being exposed to a rabies-infected animal.”

According to the CDC, the rabies virus is spread by direct contact with an infected animal, such as saliva or brain and nervous system tissue. According to the CDC, the rabies virus targets the central nervous system, creating a brain illness that can lead to death if not treated.

Related Article: Zoo Outbreak: Lions, Tigers from Washington DC’s National Zoo All Tested Positive for COVID-19

Rabies Infection

Infections with human rabies are uncommon in the United States, with just one to three cases recorded each year, according to the IDPH. Despite this, the post-exposure vaccine series is administered to an estimated 60,000 Americans each year.

Even though humans are typically aware when a bat has bitten them, public health authorities in Illinois warn that bats “have tiny teeth, and the bite mark may not be easy to notice.”

According to the state health agency, people who come into close contact with a bat should not release it until it has been tested for rabies. People should also call their local health officials to determine whether they have been exposed and what action they should take.

Bat-borne Rabies


(Photo : Getty Images)

According to a 2019 CDC report, bats are responsible for seven out of every ten rabies case in the United States.

Researchers looked at rabies trends in the United States from 1938 to 2018, a period of 80 years. Until 1960, most infections occurred from dog bites, when animal species, particularly bats, became the predominant source of human infection. According to the study, this followed countrywide attempts in the 1950s to require pet vaccinations and enact leash regulations.

In the 1940s, the number of rabies deaths in the United States was from 30 to 50 per year but has since fallen to one to three per year. This is due to the availability of post-exposure therapy and routine pet immunization.

CDC Notice

In June, the CDC announced that dogs from more than 100 countries with a high rabies risk would be prohibited from entering the United States. According to the CDC, the action impacts dog rescue operations, imports from dog breeders, and persons bringing in pets.

According to the CDC, the decision was taken due to some circumstances, including the coronavirus pandemic, a shortage of adequate quarantining facilities for dogs, and three recent cases of sick dogs being imported into the country.

Also Read: Scientists Double Effort to Find Possible Next Pandemic, Caused by Other Zoonotic Diseases

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