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Idaho records first human death due to rabies since 1978

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 4, 2021

Associated Press

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

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Central District Health in a news release said the west-central man from Boise County died in October after a bat became entangled in his clothing in August.

Officials said the man didn’t think he had been bitten or scratched. Officials said he became ill in October and died in a Boise hospital.

The bat exposure didn’t surface until after an investigation into his illness. Officials didn’t release the man’s name or age.

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

Public health officials are working with the family as well as staff at the hospital where the man was treated. Those who had possible contact with secretions from the man are being assessed and could receive preventive rabies treatment.

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

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