HOUSTON – A teenager stricken with rabies he likely contracted when a bat flew into his bedroom and bit him died Friday.
He began showing rabies symptoms last week. Doctors suspect the teen was infected several weeks earlier when a bat flew through his open bedroom window and bit him as he slept.
Health experts say bats' teeth are extremely small and sharp, so a person could be bitten and not realize it.
Hours before his death, fellow players on the Humble Wildcats team tearfully prayed for his recovery. Classmates dressed in white Friday to show solidarity for him and some pinned his photo to their shirts.
"We were told he had only hours left. But nobody wanted to believe it," said Daniel Tatman, 16, one of the players.
Doctors had been using an experimental treatment, a combination of sedatives and antiviral drugs, on the teenager. The treatment had been credited with saving the life of a Wisconsin girl, making her the first unvaccinated human on record to survive rabies.
Following his death, the hospital issued a statement in which the teen's family expressed their thanks to the community for their prayers and support.
Rabies is usually fatal in humans once symptoms occur. The viral disease is rare in humans, averaging about three cases each year in the United States and about 55,000 annually worldwide.
Most people infected with rabies start to show symptoms one to three months after being infected. Those include irritability, confusion, headache, fever, hallucinations and itching or pain. The disease attacks the nervous system.