Rabies is a virus that infects the central nervous system and is typically lethal to both animals and humans. The disease is conveyed mainly by the bite of an infected animal, with bat interactions accounting for most infections in the United States in recent years.

Five people died of rabies in the United States last year, the most in a decade. Yet, according to health experts on Thursday, Jan. 6, some people are unaware they have the disease or refuse to get life-saving immunizations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three people died due to bat exposure. People “either trivialized the exposure (to bats) or they didn’t recognize the severity of rabies,” in all three cases, according to Ryan Wallace, a CDC rabies expert who co-authored the rabies paper.”

Due to a longstanding dread of vaccines, an 80-year-old Illinois man refused to take life-saving doses. Likewise, a man from Idaho and a youngster from Texas refused to get vaccinated, believing that the bat bite did not scratch or damage their skin.

The other two deaths happened in 2021. One of the victims was a man from Minnesota bitten by a bat. According to CDC investigators, the injections were given to him, but an undiscovered immune system disorder hampered their effectiveness. Another victim was bitten by a rabid dog in the Philippines and died in New York after coming to the United States.

Death can happen within weeks of the onset of symptoms. However, it is preventable with a series of five injections given within two weeks of exposure.

According to the CDC, an estimated 60,000 people in the United States are treated for rabies every year. Infections can induce various symptoms, including sleeplessness, anxiety, confusion, paralysis, salivation, hallucinations, difficulties swallowing, and a fear of water.

According to the CDC, no rabies deaths were reported in 2019 or 2020. According to a CDC official, the last time five rabies deaths were reported in the United States in one year was in 2011.

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