Rabies from encounter with bat kills Idaho man, 1st death since 1978

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BOISE – A human has died in Idaho from rabies for the first time since 1978, health officials said Thursday.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Central District Health, in a press release, said the man from west-central Boise County died in October after a bat got tangled in its clothes in August.

Authorities said the man did not believe he was bitten or scratched. Authorities said he fell ill in October and died in a hospital in Boise.

Exposure to the bat only surfaced after an investigation into its disease. Authorities have not disclosed the man’s name or age.

“This tragic case highlights how important it is for Idahoans to be aware of the risk of exposure to rabies,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn. “Although deaths are rare, it is essential that people exposed to a bat receive appropriate treatment to prevent the onset of rabies as soon as possible.”

Public health officials work with the family as well as with staff at the hospital where the man was treated. Those who have had possible contact with human secretions are being assessed and may receive preventative treatment for rabies.

An estimated 60,000 Americans receive the post-exposure rabies vaccine each year, officials said.


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