Health officials say most patients didn’t know they were sick or had been denied life-saving shots.
NEW YORK: Five Americans were bitten by rabies this year, the most in the past decade, and health officials announced Thursday that a few victims didn’t know they’d been infected or had been denied life-saving shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported three deaths, all caused by encountering bats. CDC officials claimed they were concerned that the tragic deaths could have been avoided.
One, an 80-year-old Illinois man, was hesitant to undergo life-saving shots due to a long-standing fear of vaccines. One Idaho man and one Texas boy didn’t get shots due to the assumption that no bat or scratch could break their skin.
In all three instances, individuals “either trivialized the exposure (to bats) or they didn’t recognize the severity of rabies,” said Ryan Wallace, a CDC Rabies expert who wrote the report.
Another two deaths took place in the year 2021. One of them was a Minnesota man who the bat struck. He received the shots; however, an undiagnosed problem with his immune system affected the effectiveness of the shots, CDC officials said. Another victim was attacked by a rabid dog when traveling in the Philippines and passed away after arriving in New York after returning to the U.S.
The cause of rabies is an infection of the nervous system of central nerves. It can be fatal for both animals and human beings. The most common way to spread it is through bites from an infected animal, with most U.S. infections in recent years linked to bats.
Infections can cause anxiety, insomnia, confusion, paralysis, hallucinations, salivation, trouble swallowing, and fear of water.
The death can happen two weeks after symptoms first begin. However, it is possible to prevent it by taking five shots within two weeks after exposure.
CDC states that a total of 60 000 Americans receive treatment each year following exposure to rabies.
There were no deaths from rabies recorded in either 2019 or 2020. The last time five U.S. rabies deaths were reported in one year was in 2011, CDC officials said.
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