A Massachusetts man is in critical condition after contracting rabies, the state’s first human case of the disease in 75 years, a Public Health Department spokesman confirmed to CNN on Friday.
The Barnstable County man is in his 60s and is not being identified, Health Department spokesman John Jacobs said.
Health officials suspect the man, who is in Cape Cod Hospital, contracted the virus from a bat at his residence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are performing tests to confirm the species, according to a Health Department news release.
The man’s family may have been exposed and are being treated, CNN affiliate WCVB reported.
Rabies is a virus that is spread from saliva, most commonly through a bite. It can be deadly in animals and humans if not treated quickly. The virus attacks the brain and nervous system. Common symptoms in animals include excessive drooling and unusual aggression. Humans may exhibit fever, sore throat and numbness or tingling at the site of the bite, according to medical manuals.
Two or three people die from the disease each year, a 97% drop over the past century, according to the CDC.
Two weeks ago, a South Carolina man died from rabies, the state’s first case in half a century, CNN affiliate WPDE reported.