Illinois Man Dies After Contracting Rabies From Bat and Refusing Treatment

There is a post-exposure rabies vaccination shot that individuals can take.

An Illinois man died from the first case of rabies in the state since 1954, after contracting it from a bat and then denying treatment, the Illinois Department of Public Health said Tuesday. The man, who was in his 80s, woke up in August with a bat on his neck, and afterward the bat was captured and tested positive for rabies.

A bat colony was also found in the man's home. He was advised that he needed rabies treatment but he declined, according the the department of public health.

The man reportedly began experiencing rabies symptoms, including a headache, neck pain, and difficulty speaking, among other things. He then died of the disease, the department of public health announced.

"Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease," IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "However, 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."

There is a post-exposure rabies vaccination shot that individuals can take, with around 60,000 Americans receiving it a year. Bats are the most common species to carry rabies, according to the department of health.

"Sadly, this case underscores the importance of raising public awareness about the risk of rabies exposure in the United States," Lake County Health Department executive director Mark Pfister said in a statement.

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