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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning after three people died from rabies over a six-week period in late 2021.

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In a report published on its website, the CDC said that between Sept. 28 and Nov. 10, 2021, three people died in Idaho, Illinois, and Texas after they were exposed to rabid bats. All three patients told health officials that they had direct contact with a bat three to seven weeks before symptoms began, and then died two to three weeks after that. None of the patients received any treatment to prevent developing rabies or to treat the disease once they contracted it.

Bats are well known to spread rabies. The CDC reports that between 1960 and 2018, approximately 70% of the 89 human cases of rabies were caused by exposure to bats.

CDC Report by National Content Desk on Scribd

In 2021 there were a total of five rabies cases in the United States, after zero cases were reported in 2019 and 2020, ABC News reported.

The surge in cases may be due to a lack of awareness about risks and how to respond to potential exposure, USA Today reported. The CDC says if you have been bitten or scratched by any wildlife or unfamiliar animals, you should always talk to a health care professional immediately.