29 September (WNN) — An Illinois man who was bitten by a bat last month and later died has been diagnosed with rabies, becoming the state’s first known human case of the virus in nearly 70 years, officials said.
State health officials said in a statement that the case was identified as that of a Lake County resident, age 80, who was suffocated in the neck by a bat in mid-August.
Officials said the bat was captured and tested positive for the virus. However, the person refused treatment for the disease, despite being advised to start medication after exposure, and later succumbed to the disease, with neck pain, headache, difficulty controlling his arms, and Started experiencing other symptoms along with rabies.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the diagnosis on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, this case underscores the importance of raising public awareness of the risk of rabies in the United States,” said Mark Pfister, executive director of the Lake County Health Department. “Rabies infection in people in the United States is rare. However, once symptoms begin, rabies is almost always fatal, making it important to treat an exposed person as soon as possible to prevent the onset of rabies.” receive proper treatment.”
Illinois health officials said the virus, which is most commonly identified in bats in the state, infects the central nervous system and is usually fatal without treatment.
According to the CDC, only one to three cases of rabies are reported each year, although an estimated more than 60,000 Americans receive a vaccination every 12 months post-exposure.
The federal agency said only 25 cases of the disease were reported in the country between 2009 and 2018, of which seven contracted the virus outside the country. All but two of those 25 cases died.
“Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease,” said IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “If you think you have been exposed to rabies, seek medical attention immediately and follow the recommendations of healthcare providers and public health officials.”
Illinois health officials said the last time a human case of rabies was confirmed in the state was in 1954. So far this year, 30 bats have tested positive for the disease in the state, officials said, adding that over 1,000 bats are tested every year. Due to possible human exposure to the virus.