The Illinois Department of Public Health said on Tuesday that the man, who was in his 80s, woke up in his Lake County, Illinois home in mid-August with a bat on his neck.
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A pensioner has died after being bitten by a rabid bat and refusing treatment, in the first case of rabies in his US state since 1954.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said on Tuesday thatthe man, who was in his 80s, woke up in his Lake County, Illinois home in mid-August with a bat on his neck.
According to AP reports, the bat was captured and later tested positive for rabies. Health officials said the man declined to begin post-exposure rabies treatment.
A bat colony was later found in his home.
The man began to experience symptoms this month, such as neck pain, headaches and numbness, as well as difficulty gaining control of his arms and difficulty speaking.
The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system and can cause disease and brain death.
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Local health officials have said that people who have come into contact with the man have been provided with preventative rabies treatment if it was needed.
While people who have been bitten by a bat can typically tell, the animals have very small teeth, meaning the mark from a bite may not easily be spotted.
Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister said the case “underscores the importance” of raising public awareness about the risk of rabies exposure in the United States.
“Rabies infections in people are rare in the United States, however, once symptoms begin, rabies is almost always fatal, making it vital that an exposed person receive appropriate treatment to prevent the onset of rabies as soon as possible,” he said.
Rabies infections in humans are extremely rare, with between one and three cases typically being reported across the US each year.
However, exposure to the disease is more common, with around 60,000 Americans a year receiving vaccines after being exposed.
The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr Ngozi Ezike, also issued a press release about the infection and subsequent death, which said “Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease”.
He added that “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”.
According to the health department, thirty bats have tested positive in Illinois this year for rabies.