Spring Grove man dies in first human rabies case in the state since 1954

  • In mid-August, a Spring Grove man woke up to find a bat on his neck. The man later died from rabies.

    In mid-August, a Spring Grove man woke up to find a bat on his neck. The man later died from rabies. Getty Images stock photo

 
By Madison Savedra
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 9/28/2021 8:05 PM

A Spring Grove man died in the first case of human rabies in the state since 1954.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the diagnosis Tuesday, the Lake County Health Department and Illinois Department of Public Health said.

 

The McHenry County coroner's office said Thomas Krob, 87, died Sept. 20 at Northwestern McHenry Hospital.

Krob woke in mid-August to find a bat on his neck, the health departments said.

The bat was captured and tested positive for rabies. Krob declined postexposure rabies treatment and began experiencing symptoms consistent with rabies about a month later.

Wildlife experts found a bat colony in Krob's home, health officials said. People who had close contact with Krob were assessed and given preventive treatment as needed.

"Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease," said IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike. "However, there is lifesaving treatment for individuals who quickly seek care after being exposed to an animal with rabies.

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"If you think you may have been exposed to rabies, immediately seek medical attention and follow the recommendations of health care providers and public health officials."

Rabies is a disease that attacks the nervous system. Symptoms include neck pain, headache, difficulty controlling arms, finger numbness and difficulty speaking.

Only one to three human rabies cases occur each year in the U.S., but an estimated 60,000 people still receive a vaccine after possibly being exposed to rabies.

"Sadly, this case underscores the importance of raising public awareness about the risk of rabies exposure in the United States," said Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister.

Bats are the most commonly identified species with rabies in Illinois. More than 1,000 bats a year are tested for rabies in Illinois and about 3% test positive, the health departments said.

Anyone who comes in contact with a bat should alert animal control to capture it.

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