HOUSTON — A Texas teenager who was bitten by a bat while he slept in his home has died of rabies, the Houston hospital that treated him said in a statement.
Zachary Jones, 16, died on Friday, a week after he became ill from the bat bite he received about a month before.
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control statistics, only 10 other people have died of rabies in the United States since 1998.
“Rabies, which causes devastating neurological damage, is almost always fatal once symptoms appear, as was the case with this child,” Texas Children’s Hospital said in a statement.
A 15-year-old girl from Wisconsin who contracted rabies in 2004 survived after the onset of symptoms, which can take weeks to develop.
Doctors at Texas Children’s were trying the same treatment on Jones that saved the girl, but a spokeswoman told the Houston Chronicle the boy’s illness was more advanced and he had a different strain of rabies.
A bat apparently flew through an open window into Jones’ room while he was napping. He felt the bat brush against him, but did not know he had been bitten, health officials said.
The bat was captured with a towel and thrown out the window so it was never examined for rabies, they said.
Bats are common in Texas in spring as they migrate north after spending the winter in Mexico. Wildlife experts say they consume insects and help pollinate useful plants.