CDC warns of bat-related rabies after 3 Americans die in recent weeks

It comes after no cases of rabies were reported in the United States in 2019 and 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning on Thursday about the risk of rabies after three Americans – including a child – died from the disease over a six-week period last year.

All three patients contracted rabies after being exposed to bats.

That brings the total number of rabies cases in 2021 to five, which officials say is concerning given that no cases were reported in the United States in 2019 and 2020.

“We have come a long way in the United States to reduce the number of people infected with rabies each year, but this recent spate of cases is a sobering reminder that contact with bats poses a real risk to health, ”said Dr. Ryan Wallace. , a veterinarian and rabies expert in the CDC’s high-consequence pathogens and pathology division, said in a press release.

The deaths occurred between September 28, 2021 and November 10, 2021 with one case each in Idaho, Illinois and Texas, according to a report released by the CDC.

Two of the deaths were described as “preventable exposures”. One involved a bat perch in a person’s house and the other involved a patient picking up the bat with his bare hands.

None of the three patients, all male, received post-exposure vaccines that could prevent the rabies virus from infecting a person and causing symptoms to appear.

According to the CDC, one patient refused the injections due to a “long-standing fear of vaccines” and the other two did not realize that they were at risk of contracting rabies from their exposure.

Once a person begins to develop symptoms of rabies, which include fever, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, confusion, and hallucinations, it means the disease has progressed to the point where it is almost fatal. 100 %.

All three patients died between two and three weeks after the onset of their symptoms.

In its report, the CDC suggested that the rise in rabies deaths is due to people being unaware of the risks of the disease.

The CDC also warned people to never touch or handle bats, which are the leading cause of rabies in humans – accounting for 70% of infections in the United States. Raccoons, skunks, and foxes are other common causes in the United States.

Infected bats transmit the virus through their saliva, usually through bites. However, saliva can also enter the body through a cut or break in the skin.

If a person has come in contact with a bat, the CDC recommends calling the state or local health department so the animal can be trapped for testing. They should also wash the wounds immediately with soap and water.

The person should also not delay talking to a healthcare professional or seeing an emergency doctor to determine whether or not they need post-exposure images. Post-exposure scans are very effective in preventing death if administered soon after exposure.

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