SALT LAKE CITY — A Moroni man has died from rabies, the first death of its kind in Utah since 1944.

Gary Giles, 55, died Sunday, but struggled for weeks with an slowly progressing disease that doctors couldn’t stop from infecting his brain and other organs, ultimately leading to his death.

He and his wife, Juanita Giles, didn’t realize that the bats that had frequented their home were carriers of a rabid and highly contagious virus.

“The bats never hurt us, and we were always catching them in our hands and releasing them outside because you hear all the time about how bats are good for the insect population, and you don’t want to hurt them,” Giles said Thursday.

“The bats would lick our fingers, almost like they could taste the saltiness of our fingers, but they never bit us.”

Gary Giles first had neck and back pain and went to the local emergency room on Oct. 19 and was sent home with steroids and other pain management treatment for a potential pulled muscle; but that turned into numbness and tingling, and, eventually, wheezing. His wife called 911 and he was taken by ambulance to another local emergency room.

He was again transported to Utah Valley Hospital, and then put in the intensive care unit at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, where he died.

“It’s very scary and it is creating a bit of a panic,” Giles said, adding that she is getting rabies vaccinations — a series of four shots over two weeks — just in case. Other family members are also getting vaccinated, though the supply of vaccine is limited within the state.

She wants others to know the risk.

“I had no clue,” she said. “We would wake up in the night and they would be walking on our bed.”

“I’ve always thought bats were kind …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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