Man wakes up with a bat on his neck and dies of rabies in Illinois

An Illinois man who woke up with a bat on his neck has died of rabies, the first human case of the disease in the state since 1954 (Image: Getty Images)

An Illinois man who woke up with a bat on his neck died of rabies, the Illinois Department of Health reported Tuesday.

This marked the first human case of the disease since 1954.

In mid-August, an 80-year-old Lake County man was bitten on the neck by a bat, the department said.

A month later, in September, the man began developing symptoms related to rabies, including neck pain, headache, difficulty controlling his limbs, slurred speech and numbness in his extremities, the Daily Mail reported.

An Illinois man who woke up with a bat on his neck died of rabies, the first human case of the disease in the state since 1954

An Illinois man who woke up with a bat on his neck has died of rabies, the first human case of the disease in the state since 1954 (Image: Getty Images)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the diagnosis after testing in their laboratory. The bitten man has since died.

“Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in a press release.

There is a 100% death rate for those bitten by an animal suffering from rabies and not receiving treatment. Once someone shows symptoms of rabies, it is usually too late to treat them.

“However, there is life-saving treatment available for those who seek help quickly after exposure to an animal infected with rabies. If you think you have been exposed to rabies, seek medical advice immediately and follow recommendations from health care providers and public health officials. “

An Illinois man who woke up with a bat on his neck died of rabies, the first human case of the disease in the state since 1954

An Illinois man who woke up with a bat on his neck has died of rabies, the first human case of the disease in the state since 1954 (Image: Getty Images)

Cases of rabies in humans are rare, with one to three cases reported nationwide each year. Exposures are still common, and an estimated 60,000 Americans receive post-exposure vaccines each year.

In Illinois, bats are the most commonly identified animal with rabies. A bat colony was also found in the house of the man who died of the disease.

While people usually know if they’ve been bitten by a bat, bats also have very small teeth and bite marks can be difficult to see, the department said. If you are near a bat and you are unsure whether you have been exposed to a bat – for example, if you wake up and find a bat in your room – do not release the bat as it will need to be caught for rabies testing.

You should also call your doctor or local health department to see if you’ve been exposed to rabies and need preventive treatment, as well as your animal care and control department to safely remove the bat.

A total of 30 bats tested positive for rabies in Illinois that year.

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