Two children have died within days of each other after being bitten by a rabid wild animal, suspected to be a bat, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.
The state health department confirmed Saturday the death of an 8-year-old girl from the city of Palo de Lima. The patient was receiving treatment at Doctor Aurelio Valdivieso General Hospital in the state capital.
The death comes after the girl’s 7-year-old brother died of a rabies infection on December 28.
Rabies is a serious viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of mammals. The virus is usually transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected animal.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that human rabies cases are extremely rare in the United States, with one to three reported each year on average. Exposure to infected bats is the leading cause of human rabies death in the United States, accounting for approximately 70% of deaths.
But the disease still causes nearly 60,000 deaths a year worldwide, mostly from exposure to rabid dogs, with the vast majority of cases occurring in Asia and Africa.
Rabies is preventable if treatment is given promptly after exposure, but once symptoms appear the disease is almost always fatal in humans.
The CDC says it usually takes between three weeks and three months for rabies symptoms to develop depending on factors such as the specific type of virus in question and the distance between the site of exposure and the brain.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) injections are nearly 100% effective in preventing disease if treatment is given before symptoms appear.
In the case of the deaths in Oaxaca, the children were said to have been bitten on December 1, but they were not taken to a medical clinic until about three weeks later, said Dr. Concepción Rocío Arias Cruz, director of the hospital. . Milenio Television news station.
At this point, it was too late to save the siblings. The siblings’ 2-year-old sister was also bitten in the same incident but received treatment and showed no signs of rabies.
The 8-year-old girl was admitted to hospital on December 21 for health complications after being bitten by a “wild animal” and was in “serious condition”, the Oaxaca health department said. in a press release.
“During his stay at [Doctor Aurelio Valdivieso General Hospital], a group of multidisciplinary specialists constantly monitored the patient; however, she suffered irreparable damage to her health resulting in the unfortunate death of the miner,” the statement read.
After the death of the first child, health authorities in Oaxaca traveled to the remote town of Palo de Lima to vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies
Newsweek contacted the Oaxaca State Department of Health for comment.