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He woke, in mid-August, to find the bat biting into his neck in Lake County. The bat was later captured, and confirmed to have been infected with rabies.
Earlier this month the man started displaying symptoms of rabies; such as trouble speaking, difficulty operating his arms and neck pain.
He later died, with the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the death was caused by rabies.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), this is the state’s first confirmed human case of rabies since 1954.
Around 30 bats have tested positive for rabies in Illinois this year.
The man in his 80s was bitten by a bat [stock photo]
Around 1,000 bats are tested for rabies in Illinois per year
Each year the state tests over 1,000 bats, which have been exposed to humans.
Around three percent of these end up testing positive for rabies.
The IDPH advised the man he should receive rabies treatment, following the bite, but claims he declined.
In a statement they said: “In mid-August, a Lake County resident in his 80s awoke to a bat on his neck.
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The bat attack took place in Illinois
“The bat was captured and tested positive for rabies. The individual was advised he needed to start postexposure rabies treatment but declined.
“One month later, the individual began experiencing symptoms consistent with rabies, including neck pain, headache, difficulty controlling his arms, finger numbness, and difficulty speaking. The individual subsequently died.
“People who had contact with secretions from the individual were assessed and given rabies preventive treatment as needed.”
On average 1-3 cases of rabies are recorded in humans within the United States each year.
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An average of 1-3 people die in the USA from rabies each year
Around 60,000 Americans per annum receive a rabies post-exposure vaccine as a precaution.
Unless treated early, ideally right after the bite, rabies is typically fatal for humans.
IDPH Director Dr Ngozi Ezike commented: “Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease.
“However, there is life-saving treatment for individuals who quickly seek care after being exposed to an animal with rabies.
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“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.”
A bat colony was found in the victim’s house after his death.
Authorities are warning Illinois residents that bats could be living in their homes.
Rabies cases are “almost always fatal” unless treated early
Mark Pfister, executive director of the Lake County Health Department Executive, said: “Sadly, this 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.”
In Illinois bat are the most common species to be diagnosed with rabies.