Cases of rabies rising

Local News

CHICOPE, Mass. (WWLP) – Five Americans died of rabies last year, the largest number in a decade, and health officials said that some of the people didn’t realize they had been infected or refused life-saving shots.

Rabies is caused by a virus that invades the central nervous system and is usually fatal in animals and humans. It’s most commonly spread through a bite from an infected animal, with most U.S. infections in recent years traced to bat encounters.

Infection can cause insomnia, anxiety, confusion, paralysis, salivating, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing and fear of water. Death can occur only a couple of weeks after symptoms begin.

An estimated 60,000 Americans are treated each year after possible exposure to rabies, the CDC says.

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