An 80-year-old man from Lake County, Illinois, died after being bitten by a bat. He passed away from rabies, the first human case in the states since 1954, according to health officials, on Sept. 29, 2021.
One mid-August morning, he woke up to find a bat on his neck. In a statement, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) officials said that the man declined to start a post-exposure rabies treatment after confirmation that the bat tested positive for rabies.
After a month, he started experiencing symptoms consistent with rabies, such as difficulty controlling his arms, neck pain, difficulty speaking, and finger numbness. The CDC confirmed the diagnosis last Tuesday and later found a bat colony in his home. This human case of rabies is by far the first reported case in Illinois state since 1954.
Health officials said that those who had direct contact with secretions were assessed and given the needed rabies preventive treatment. Rabies is fatal and has the highest mortality rate without preventative treatment. However, life-saving treatment is available for individuals who seek care after exposure to animals with rabies. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike recommends that those exposed to rabies immediately seek medical attention and follow the recommendation of their healthcare provider and health officials in your state.
Bats are the most common species to carry rabies in Illinois, with at least 30 bats tested positive for rabies this year. Health officials said that incidents of rabies exposure are still common in the U.S., with an estimated 60,000 Americans receiving post-exposure vaccination each year.
If you are close to a bat but are not sure if you were exposed, call your doctor or local health department to determine if you were exposed. Then, contact the animal control to remove the bat and send for rabies testing.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Fox News: Illinois man dies of rabies in state’s first human case since the 1950s; by David Aaro
KTLA 5 News: Illinois man dies of rabies after apparently being bitten by bat; by Nexstar Media Wire
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