Man dies after waking to a BAT on his neck

·News Reporter
·3-min read

A man has died after waking up to a bat on his neck.

The man, aged in his 80s, a resident of Lake County in the US state of Illinois, woke up in mid-August with a bat on his neck, according to the state’s health department.

“The bat was captured and tested positive for rabies,” the department said.

“The individual was advised he needed to start post exposure rabies treatment but declined.”

A month later the man began experiencing symptoms associated with rabies. He had neck pain, headache and difficulty speaking. He then died.

Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr Ngozi Ezike said rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease.

A bat is pictured in flight.
A man died after he woke up to a bat on his neck. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

Lake County Health Department executive director Mark Pfister said “sadly” the man’s case underpins why it is important for people to know about rabies.

Bats are commonly identified to carry rabies in Illinois. The man also had a colony of bats in his home. He was the first case of human rabies in the state since 1954.

Bats and Covid-19

Bats are more commonly, at least these days, associated with coronavirus.

Bats living in caves in Laos were found to be carrying a similar pathogen that experts suggest could potentially infect humans directly.

Researchers from France's Pasteur Institute and the National University of Laos said their findings showed that viruses genetically close to the SARS-CoV-2 virus "exist in nature" among bat species in the limestone caves of northern Laos, which neighbours China.

Of the viruses they identified among the hundreds of bats tested in Vientiane Province, three were found to closely resemble the virus that causes Covid-19, particularly in the mechanism for latching on to human cells.

"The idea was to try to identify the origin of this pandemic," Marc Eloit, who leads the Pasteur Institute's pathogen discovery laboratory, told AFP.

Mr Eloit, whose team analysed the samples collected, said there were still key differences between the viruses found and SARS-CoV-2.

But he said the work was "a major step forward" in identifying the pandemic's origin, confirming the theory that coronavirus has spread across the world could have started with living bats.

The authors of the study, which has been submitted to Nature for peer review, warned that their findings suggest the new viruses "seem to have the same potential for infecting humans as early strains of SARS-CoV-2".

"People working in caves, such as guano collectors, or certain ascetic religious communities who spend time in or very close to caves, as well as tourists who visit the caves, are particularly at risk of being exposed," the authors said.

with AFP

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