About a month after his exposure, the man began to suffer from neck pain, headaches, numbness in his fingers, difficulty controlling his arms and speaking, health officials said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the man’s diagnosis on Tuesday after tests in his lab.
Wildlife experts have found a bat colony in the man’s house, the IDPH said.
“Rabies has the highest death rate of any disease,” IDPH director Dr Ngozi Ezike said in the press release. “However, there is a life-saving treatment for people who seek prompt care after being exposed to a rabid animal.”
Human rabies infections are rare in the United States, with one to three cases reported each year, the IDPH said. Yet, approximately 60,000 Americans receive the post-exposure vaccination series each year.
Illinois public health officials warn that while people usually know when they’ve been bitten by a bat, they “have very small teeth and the bite mark may not be easy to see.”
The state’s health department advises people who approach a bat not to release it until it can be tested for rabies. People are also encouraged to contact their local health officials who can determine if they have been exposed and what course of action is needed.
Most cases of rabies in the US are from bats, CDC says
Researchers looked at rabies trends in the United States over an 80-year period, from 1938 to 2018. They found that most infections came from dog bites until 1960, when wildlife – especially bats – have become the main source of human infection. This follows nationwide efforts in the 1950s to mandate pet vaccines and implement leash control laws, the report says.
The number of rabies deaths in the United States ranged from 30 to 50 per year in the 1940s, but has fallen to one to three deaths per year. This is the result of routine companion animal vaccination and the availability of post-exposure treatment.
The decision was made based on a combination of factors, the CDC said, including the coronavirus pandemic, the lack of facilities to safely quarantine dogs and three recent incidents of infected dogs that were introduced into the country.
CNN’s Jennifer Henderson and Jennifer Feldman contributed to this report.