Barnstable County man is hospitalized and in
critical condition after contracting rabies
A Barnstable County man is hospitalized and in critical condition after contracting rabies, likely after
being exposed to a bat in his home, state public health officials announced this morning.
This is the first case since 1935 of rabies contracted by a human in Massachusetts. It is the sixth such
case this year in the United States. Rabies is a highly fatal disease that attacks the central nervous system.
Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach said there is no evidence that there are more rabid animals
in the state than in recent years.
“This is not a reason for people to panic,” he said. “There is no elevated risk here.”
While rabies infects tens of thousands of people around the world each year, it had been successfully
controlled in the United States since the 1930s by vaccinating domestic animals and through the use of
medications given to people who have been bitten or scratched by animals thought to be infected, said
Dr. Lawrence Madoff, director of the Division of Epidemiology and Immunization. Hundreds of people in
the state receive the post-exposure drugs each year before developing any symptoms, he said.
Most who do develop symptoms, as in this case, die from the disease.
Rabbis does have to be contracted through a bite, right?
Couldn't the saliva carrying the rabies get into the bloodstream through an existing cut?
Transmission of rabies virus usually begins when infected saliva of a host is passed to an uninfected animal. The most common mode of rabies virus transmission is through the bite and virus-containing saliva of an infected host. Though transmission has been rarely documented via other routes such as contamination of mucous membranes (i.e., eyes, nose, mouth), aerosol transmission, and corneal and organ transplantations.