A man in northeastern Illinois died of rabies about a month after apparently being infected by a bat he found in his room, health officials said on Tuesday, marking the state’s first human case of the virus since 1954.
Last month, the guy in his eighties awoke to find a bat on his neck at his Lake County, Illinois, house. The guy refused post-exposure therapy after the bat tested positive for rabies, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). According to health officials, the individual began to experience neck pain, headaches, numbness in his fingers, difficulty controlling his arms, and difficulty speaking around a month after his exposure, per CNN.
After testing at its lab, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) verified the man’s diagnosis on Tuesday. IDPH stated wildlife experts discovered a bat colony in the man’s residence.
In a news release, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike stated that rabies has the highest fatality rate of any disease. However, there is a life-saving treatment for people who seek medical help right after being exposed to a rabies-infected animal, he asserted.
How Rabies Virus Spreads?
According to the CDC, the rabies virus spreads through direct contact with an infected animal, such as saliva or brain and nervous system tissue. In addition, as reported by CDC, the rabies virus affects the central nervous system, creating a brain condition that can lead to death if not treated.
Infections with human rabies are uncommon in the United States, with only one to three cases documented each year, according to the IDPH. Despite this, the post-exposure vaccine series is administered to an estimated 60,000 Americans each year.
Even though people are usually aware when they have been bitten by a bat, public health officials in Illinois warn that bats “have tiny teeth and the bite mark may not be easy to see.”
According to the state health agency, people who come into close contact with a bat should not release it until it has been tested for rabies. People should also call their local health officials to determine whether they have been exposed and what action they should take. On the one hand, in proportion to a 2019 CDC report, bats are responsible for seven out of every ten cases of rabies in the United States.
Retrospective: Studies on Rabies Virus
Researchers looked at rabies trends in the United States from 1938 to 2018, a period of 80 years. They discovered that dog bites caused the majority of illnesses until 1960, when animal species, particularly bats, became the main source of human infection. The article followed nationwide attempts in the 1950s to enforce pet immunizations and enact leash restrictions. In the 1940s, the number of rabies deaths in the United States was from 30 to 50 per year but has since plummeted to one to three per year. This is due to the availability of post-exposure treatment and routine pet immunization.
Meanwhile, In June, the CDC announced that dogs from more than 100 countries with a high rabies risk would be prohibited from entering the United States. According to the CDC, the action impacts dog rescue missions, imports from dog breeders, and persons bringing in pets.
The decision was made due to several concerns, including the coronavirus pandemic, a shortage of secure quarantining facilities for dogs, and three recent occurrences of sick dogs being imported into the country, according to the CDC.