SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Nov. 8, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Family members have identified a 55-year-old Moroni man who died from rabies — the first death of its kind in Utah since 1944.
Gary S. Giles passed away at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, on Sunday, Nov. 4, according to his obituary. Giles is survived by his wife, four children and nine grandchildren.
A news release from the Utah Department of Health Thursday morning said it is suspected exposure to a bat was the source of infection.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist with medical and funeral expenses for Giles.
His daughter Crystal Lynn Sedgwick wrote on the GoFundMe page:
“My dad was experiencing back pain. While he was working on Oct. 16, he tweaked his neck and pinched a nerve. He was seen by a chiropractor and that was able to help relieve some of the pain initially. Later he began to experience numbness and tingling in his arms, followed by uncontrollable muscle spasms.”
Giles was transferred to the ICU at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo on Oct. 20.
“We remained at this hospital for the next nine days while doctors performed extensive testing,” the post says. “Everything came back normal. This was incredibly aggravating to the doctors and to our family. We took him off of all of his sedatives on Oct. 25. It was time for him to wake up — only he didn’t wake up. We were told on the Oct. 26 that he was in a coma.”
Giles was transported by Life Flight to Intermountain Medical Center, the post says. Doctors told the family there was little more they could do for Giles, and the family made the decision to remove him from life support Sunday. The family did not know Giles had rabies until after his death.
“To say that we’re heartbroken would be an understatement,” the post said. “My dad has always been a giver. During the final 24 hours that he was still able to speak with us, he was in a delusional state, and he still couldn’t stop talking about all the people that he needed to help and favors that he had yet to follow through with. He had a heart of gold.
“The only favor that I ask of everyone is that you take the time to tell those that you love how much they mean to you. This is a very unexpected tragedy for our family — and what I wouldn’t give to turn back time to show my love more.”
For Giles’ funeral information click here.
The Utah Department of Health issued a news release Thursday with more information about rabies.
“In Utah, people and animals are most likely to come into contact with rabies through exposure to bats,” the news release said. “Because a bat’s teeth and claws are so small, a bat bite or scratch may not be seen or felt by the injured person. Anyone who is bitten by a bat, has bare skin contact with a bat, or has other potential contact with a bat, such as waking up in a room with a bat, should contact their health care provider or local health department for advice on whether they should receive treatment to prevent rabies.”
Since rabies is nearly always fatal once symptoms develop, all potential exposures must be taken seriously.
Rabies affects the nervous system of humans and animals, the news release goes on. A person may contract rabies through a bite, scratch, or saliva from the infected animal. Due to the presence of virus in some fluids such as saliva, cerebrospinal fluid, tears, and respiratory tract fluids, it is theoretically possible for a person to spread rabies to another person through contact with these body fluids. The only well-documented cases of rabies caused by human-to-human transmission occurred among recipients of transplanted corneas and recipients of solid organs. Rabies is not found in urine, blood, serum, or feces.
“If you find yourself near a bat, dead or alive, do not touch, hit, or kill it,” said Dallin Peterson, epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health. “Call your health care provider or local public health department immediately to report the possible exposure and determine whether preventive treatment is necessary.”
If you have bats in your home, seek help from a local company to find ways to remove the bats or contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for more information.
Every year, an estimated 40,000 people nationwide receive a rabies prevention treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) after a bite or scratch from a domestic animal, such as dogs or cats, with unknown vaccination status. Not all animal exposures require PEP.
The UDOH and local health departments urge all Utahns to ensure their pets’ rabies vaccines are up-to-date. Utah law requires all domestic dogs, cats, and ferrets receive a rabies vaccine. Pet owners are encouraged to check with their veterinarian for more information.
Click here for more information from UDOH on the disease.