Man Wakes Up With a Bat on His Neck, Later Dies in the State’s First Human Case of Rabies Since 1950s

For the first time in over 60 years, a man from Illinois has died from complications after being infected by rabies, according to a report from Fox News.

In August, the man reportedly woke up and discovered a bat attached to his neck.

The bat was apprehended by officials and later tested for rabies. The positive results were relayed to the 87 year old bite victim and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommended that he receive post-exposure rabies treatment.

The man rejected the recommendation, according to a statement from the IDPH.

Several weeks later the man reportedly fell ill, experiencing neck pain, weakness in his arms, numbness in his digits, and developed problems speaking.

The man was eventually transported to McHenry County hospital, where he died.

A bat colony was then discovered in his home after further investigation.

The death being related to rabies was confirmed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) later in the week.

Health officials reportedly stated that although infections in humans are extremely rare, totaling one to three cases in an average year, the result of going untreated is usually death.

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Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the IDPH said; “Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease.” Adding, “However, there is life-saving treatment for individuals who quickly seek care after being exposed to an animal with rabies. If you think you may have been exposed to rabies, immediately seek medical attention and follow the recommendations of health care providers and public health officials.”

Although contracting rabies is rare, up to 60,000 Americans receive a “post-exposure vaccination series” each year after coming in close contact with an animal that may have rabies.

Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister said; “Sadly, this case underscores the importance of raising public awareness about the risk of rabies exposure in the United States.”

Thirty bats have tested positive for rabies in Illinois this year. Of all the species in Illinois, they are the most likely to be infected with rabies.

The CDC also warned that rabies are most likely to be spread from an animal bite. Dogs, foxes, raccoons, and coyotes are some of the most common sources of infections.

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