A New Jersey man died Thursday of rabies after being bitten by a bat in what doctors said was the state's first case of human rabies in 25 years.
The 32-year-old man contracted rabies during the summer when he was trying to remove bats from his living room, said Dr. Donald Allegra, infectious-disease specialist at Northwest Covenant Medical Center.
Allegra said he had turned to the states of Montana and Washington, the only other places where human deaths from bat-transmitted rabies have occurred this year, for help in saving the life of the man, who had been comatose on a respirator.
Of 35 cases of human rabies diagnosed in the United States since 1980, 20 -- including the New Jersey man -- have been linked to bats. Less than 1 percent of bats carry the rabies virus, Allegra said.
The man, who was not identified by the hospital, was admitted Oct. 15 complaining of flulike symptoms but did not suspect that he had rabies.