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Rabies Kills Illinois Man for the First Time Since the 1950s




A man in Illinois has died from rabies. This is the first human case for the state since the 1950s. News of his death was reported by health officials on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.

The man, who was in his 80s and from Lake County, woke up to find a bat on his neck in mid-August. The bat was captured and tested for rabies. When the test came back positive the man was told he needed to start post-exposure rabies treatment.

Which he declined to do, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

The man started to experience symptoms of rabies about a month later. These symptoms included finger numbness, neck pain, difficulty speaking, and difficulty controlling his arms.

Unfortunately, he died from the viral disease. Authorities found a colony of bats inside the man’s home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the man’s diagnosis on September 28.


Image by Geoffrey Njenga, ILRI (Flickr CC0)

The CDC revealed there are only one to three cases of rabies reported in the United States each year. This viral disease is preventable but can be fatal. It can be spread to pets and humans if they are scratched or bitten by an infected animal.

Rabies is mostly found in wild animals like skunks, foxes, bats, and raccoons. However, other countries have dogs that can carry the viral virus.

The virus infects the central nervous system in animals and humans. If an individual does not receive proper medical care for the infection; the virus can cause disease in the brain which can ultimately result in death.

People can protect their pets from the virus by vaccinating them for rabies. According to IDPH Director Dr. Ngozie Ezike, this viral infection “has the highest mortality rate of any disease.” However, death can be prevented if the individual seeks medical care immediately after being exposed.

Written by Sheena Robertson


FOX News: Illinois man dies of rabies in state’s first human case since the 1950s; by David Aaro

CDC: Rabies

Top and Featured Image by USFWS/Ann Froschauer Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image by Geoffrey Njenga, ILRI Courtesy of ILRI’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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