Health officials said Tuesday that an Illinois man who woke up weeks ago to find a bat on his neck died this month from the first human case of rabies since 1954.
The Lake County man, who was in his 80s, found the animal on his neck in mid-August and refused treatment, but developed rabies symptoms and died a month later, the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the diagnosis Tuesday.
In the United States, only one to three cases of rabies in humans are reported each year. Once clinical signs appear, the disease is almost always fatal. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state health department said the man in Lake County had symptoms of rabies, including neck pain, difficulty controlling his arms, numbness in the fingers and difficulty speaking. A bat colony was found in his house.
“If you think you have been exposed to rabies, seek immediate medical attention,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezeki, director of the health department. in the current situation. He and others said they hope this unfortunate event will raise awareness.
A vaccine can be given after exposure, and 30,000 to 60,000 people in the United States receive treatment each year, the CDC says.
In the United States, most rabies deaths in humans occur after exposure to bats, according to the CDC, but any mammal can get them. She added that other animals prone to rabies include raccoons, skunks and foxes.
Rabies causes the most deaths worldwide in Asia and Africa, and dogs are the main source of transmission to humans, according to World Health Organisation.
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