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Rabies (Human) in the United States

15 Oct 2015

The media has reported on the death of a 77-year-old woman from the city of Lander, Fremont County, in the state of Wyoming in western United States. The woman died from rabies virus infection following exposure to a bat in her home during the night of 21 August 2015. At the time, no signs of a bite were observed after the bat brushed her face and leg.

The woman became unwell on 18 September and was admitted to hospital but later transferred to a hospital near Salt Lake City in Utah when her condition deteriorated. The woman died around the end of September 2015.

Thirteen contacts of the woman are receiving rabies post-exposure treatment; steps are being taken to identify any others who may require treatment.

This is the first human fatality from rabies to be confirmed in the state of Wyoming. An average of two human deaths from rabies virus infection are reported annually in the United States.

(Via REUTERS - accessed 15/10/15)

Advice for Travellers

Travellers should be aware that bats in any country pose a rabies risk. Bat bites can be very fine and go unnoticed, particulary during the night when people are sleeping. All bat exposures should be reported for medical assessment and possible post-exposure treatment.

The general public should not handle bats, particularly if unprotected.