An Illinois man who woke up to find a bat on his neck weeks ago died this month in the state’s first human case of rabies since 1954, health officials said Tuesday.
The Lake County man, who was 80, found the animal on his neck in mid-August and refused treatment, but a month later he experienced symptoms of rabies and died, the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the diagnosis Tuesday.
In the US, only one to three cases of human rabies are reported each year. Once clinical symptoms appear, the disease is almost always fatal, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Lake County man suffered from rabies symptoms, including neck pain, difficulty controlling his arms, numbness in his fingers and difficulty speaking, the state health department said. A colony of bats was found in his house.
“If you think you may have been exposed to rabies, seek medical attention immediately,” said the director of the health department, Dr. Ngozi Ezike. in a sentence. He and others said they hoped the unfortunate event would raise awareness.
A vaccine can be given after exposure, and between 30,000 and 60,000 people in the US receive treatment each year, according to the CDC.
In the US, most rabies deaths in humans occur after exposure to bats, according to the CDC, but any mammal can contract it. Other common wild animals vulnerable to rabies are raccoons, skunks and foxes, he said.
Worldwide, rabies causes the majority of deaths in Asia and Africa, and dogs are the main source of transmission to humans, according to World Health Organization.