(RxWiki News) Health officials are warning about human rabies cases linked to bats in the United States.
This warning comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after three deaths were linked to rabies from bat exposures over a five-week period in late 2021.
The three cases took place in Idaho, Texas and Illinois, the CDC noted. Each of the people who died was exposed to a bat in or around their home.
And none of them received post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) shots, which can prevent rabies if the patient receives the shot before symptoms develop.
According to the CDC, rabid bats cause 70 percent of human rabies cases in the US. Rabies is a virus that is typically spread through a bite from an infected animal.
“We have come a long way in the United States towards reducing the number of people who become infected each year with rabies, but this recent spate of cases is a sobering reminder that contact with bats poses a real health risk,” said Dr. Ryan Wallace, a veterinarian and rabies expert in CDC’s Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, in a press release.
Rabies is treatable, but once symptoms develop, the virus is almost always deadly. That is why it is so important to seek emergency medical care right away if you are bitten or scratched by any animal — even if you aren't hurt.
If you come into contact with a bat, the CDC recommends calling animal control for help trapping it for testing. Testing the bat can help doctors determine whether you need PEP.
Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about rabies.