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BOSTON (CBS) – For the first time in 75 years, there is a human case of rabies in Massachusetts.
The Department of Public Health made the announcement Friday, saying the patient is a man in his 60′s from Barnstable County on the Cape and that he is in the hospital in critical condition.
The exact cause of how he was infected is not yet known, but it was likely from a bat.
Rabies in humans is rare because most people who are bitten seek treatment right away.
Health officials say, in this case, the man was likely bitten in the last several weeks and did not know it.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports
Bats were found in his home and investigators said it’s possible the man never realized he was bitten because the bats’ teeth are so small.
WBZ-TV’s Ken MacLeod reports
In some cases, rabies takes months to develop in humans.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Art Cohen reports
This is the first human rabies case in Massachusetts since 1935 and the sixth in the United States this year.
Read: Rabies Fact Sheet (.pdf)
According to DPH, rabies is almost always fatal:
“After a person is exposed to rabies, they can be given shots (called “immune globulin”) around the bite or scratch to help fight the virus where it entered the body. They will also get 4 or 5 vaccinations (shots) in their arm over several weeks. These shots will also help the person fight the virus. As long as the shots are given before the person starts to get sick, this will prevent them from getting rabies. If a person does not get the shots and then gets sick with rabies, there is no effective treatment.”