An 80-year-old man from Lake County, Illinois, woke up one day in August with a bat around his neck. Rabies was detected in the animal. The man, however, refused to be vaccinated against the disease. After a while he began to feel her symptoms and later died. According to the local services, it is the first confirmed death of rabies in this state in almost 70 years.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced Tuesday the death of an 80-year-old from Lake County. The man died of rabies. There is no information as to whether the man had any visible signs of a bat bite or why he refused treatment for the fatal disease.
Illinois. He woke up with a bat around his neck
In mid-August, an 80-year-old man woke up with a bat around his neck. The animal was captured, rabies was detected in it. A colony of bats was discovered in the house of the deceased. The man refused treatment even though Lake County authorities warned him of the dangers of exposure to bats.
The 80-year-old started experiencing rabies symptoms a month after meeting the bat, including neck pain, numbness in the fingers, difficulty speaking, headaches, and trouble controlling his hands. Symptoms progressed and the man died soon after.
Rabies. “It has the highest death rate of any disease”
The vaccine against rabies is widely available, so cases of rabies are rare in the United States. However, exposure to the virus is still relatively frequent, with around 60,000 people receiving treatment each year. Of the bats caught, only six percent have rabies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This year, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 30 bats tested positive for the virus. As reported, the death of the 80-year-old is the first confirmed case in the state since 1954.
Treatment for rabies consists of the administration of multiple doses of the vaccine, sometimes with a medicine containing antibodies against rabies. Vaccines are very effective, even when infected with rabies, because the virus has a relatively long incubation period.
“Rabies has the highest death rate of any disease,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, in a statement. “However, there are life-saving treatments for people who seek help quickly after coming into contact with an animal with rabies. If you think you may have been exposed to rabies, seek immediate medical attention and follow the advice of health professionals and public health officials,” she added.
As Mark Pfister, director of Lake County Health Department Director, noted, when rabies symptoms appear, the sick person almost always dies. “It is extremely important that a person at risk of infection receives appropriate treatment to prevent rabies from occurring as soon as possible,” explained Pfister.
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