The 43-year-old biologist infected with the rabies virus died Wednesday, confirmed the Ministry of Health.

The rabies virus is typically transmitted through the bite of an infected host such as bats. Photo Samuel Betkowski / Moment / Getty Images 

His death was due to cardiorespiratory failure, according to Daniel Salas Peraza, director of Health Surveillance, in that ministry.

The patient remained in the Intensive Care Unit of San Juan de Dios Hospital, in San José, since October 21, with the help of life support.

His admission to the medical center occurred two months after the biologist entered a cave, during a family outing on August 15, in Copey de Dota and had contact with bats.

The man, whose identity has not been made public, began to manifest symptoms on October 11, when he finally decided to obtain medical help.

The biologist had suffered a bite in one of his arms and developed numbness and paralysis of movements, difficulties swallowing and behavioral disorders.

The Risk of Rabies

The rabies virus is typically transmitted through the bite of an infected host. The bite transmits infected saliva, passing the virus to a previously uninfected animal. In humans, rabies is fatal unless treated before severe symptoms occur. If untreated, the virus spreads through the central nervous system, reaching the brain and ultimately leading to death.

Risk for travelers

All travelers should exercise caution when in close proximity to animals, including wild animals and strays. Street dogs are common in Costa Rica. Adventure travelers, particularly cavers who may find themselves in close proximity to infected bats and long-term travelers, including expats, who may be spending extended periods of time in high-risk areas, vaccination may be recommended.

If traveling with children, tell them not to pet wild or domestic animals (especially when unsupervised). Children may not report scratches or bites, making them particularly vulnerable.

Treatment of Rabies

If bitten by a potentially rabid animal, you should first wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. You should then seek medical attention immediately.

Rabies Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to those of the flu including general weakness or discomfort, fever, or a headache.” These symptoms can last for days, often accompanied by an itching sensation at the site of the bite. As the disease progresses, symptoms such as agitation, hallucinations, and delirium start to appear. See also: Rabies – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic


Stay up to date with the latest stories by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on Facebook.