Health officials announced this week that a woman in Delaware died of rabies, the first such death in the state in nearly 80 years.
The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) said the woman probably became infected sometime before the first week of July.
She first entered a Delaware hospital in July, before her condition deteriorated rapidly and she was transferred to a Pennsylvania hospital.
The woman, who died last week, lived in Kent County, in a rural area west of Felton, but her name and age were not disclosed for reasons of confidentiality.
The results of the tests did not confirm the presence of rabies until recently, and health officials have not been able to determine how the woman contracted the deadly virus.
The Delaware Division of Public Health said the woman lived in Kent County in a rural area west of Felton and was probably infected sometime before the first week of July.
Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks the central nervous system and the brain.
It is transmitted to people through the saliva of infected animals, usually from a bite, but saliva can also enter through a cut or break in the skin.
In the United States, the most common animals that transmit rabies are bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Signs and symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, confusion and hallucinations.
However, the virus can remain inactive in your body for between one and three months in what is known as the "incubation period."
When a person begins to show symptoms, the disease has usually progressed to a point where it is fatal.
If you think you have been bitten by a rabid animal, you should wash the wound with soap and water and immediately seek medical attention.
The Mayo Clinic says that depending on several factors, two injections can be given.
The first is the injection of anti-rabies immunoglobulin to prevent the virus from infecting it, which should be administered near the site of the bite as soon as possible after the bite.
The second option is a series of vaccines that help your body identify and fight rabies. There are four injections that are given in the arm for 14 days.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 23 cases of rabies in the US have been reported. UU From 2008 to 2017, with eight of them hired outside the US UU And its territories.
Generally, one to three cases are reported every year, says the agency /
Rabies is the deadliest disease and is almost 100 percent fatal if left untreated.
"Our hearts are with this woman's family at this very difficult time," said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.
"Because rabies is a deadly disease once symptoms develop, we urge all Delaware residents to make sure they are taking steps to avoid exposure, which is a preventable disease to a large extent."
Dr. Rattay told the Delaware News Journal that this is the second person to have died from the disease since the state began keeping records in 1913.
According to the News Journal archives, four-year-old Edward Louis Clark of Newport Pike was bitten by a stray dog while playing outside his home in 1941 and died nine weeks later.
Although cases of rabies are rare, the death of a six-year-old Florida boy in January, after a rabid bat scratched him, has renewed interest in testing animals.
DPH said it had conducted rabies tests on 83 animals since January, and nine confirmed they were rabid.
These animals include three foxes, three raccoons, a cat, a dog and a horse.
Officials also said that human-to-human transmission has been reported only through organ transplants, state officials said.
Health and agriculture officials are urging residents to vaccinate their pets and to be alert to any rabid animal.
People who believe they have been in contact with an animal that might have rabies should call the Department of Agriculture at 302-698-4630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.