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Minnesota man dies of rabies

A 40-year-old man from Monticello died from a rabies infection Saturday at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. Minnesota Department of Health officials said they think the man was infected after being bitten by a bat sometime in mid-August.
The Star Tribune reported the man as Randy Hertwig, a 46-year-old father and machinist who loved the outdoors. He was bitten after swatting at a bat while stacking firewood and felt only a “pinprick? on his hand. Since there was no blood or puncture marks, he didn’t realize that he had been bitten at the time.
According to the CaringBridge.org website on which Hertwig’s wife, Michele, and son and daughter, his symptoms began four weeks later with tingling in his hand where he had been bitten. A short time later Hertwig lost his ability to talk or move, and by mid-October, he “lay in a deep coma, beyond reach of even the best medicine.?
The cause of his illness remained a mystery until last week, when relatives recalled the incident after a doctor asked if he had been bitten by a bat, reports the Pioneer Press. Doctors then followed required guidelines to notify the state of a potential rabies case.
The state then notified the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted tests and confirmed that Hertwig had rabies two days before he died. Hartwig died at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The Minnesota Department of Health is working with several health care facilities where the man was treated to assure that health care workers were not directly exposed to infected saliva, according to a Minnesota Public Radio report.
The man is the fifth person to die of rabies in Minnesota in the past century, with the other deaths in 1917, 1964, 1975 and 2000.
Most recent cases of rabies in rabies in humans in the United States have been because of bat bites that went unrecognized or unreported.
Two to three people contract rabies in the United States each year, down from more than 100 each year in the early 1900s, according to the state Health Department.
Most cases of rabies are transmitted by bats, skunks or raccoons.

The Star Tribune:
http://www.startribune.com/106/story/1503056.html

The Pioneer Press:
http://www.twincities.com//ci_7261634?IADID=Search-www.twincities.com-www.twincities.com

Minnesota Public Radio:
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/10/23/rabiesdeath/