Infectious Disease News, June 2017
The man in the hospital in Puerto Rico had been bitten by a mongoose as he reached inside his backyard chicken coop to retrieve some eggs. The mongoose latched on, locking his teeth in the man’s skin, but the man did not seek medical attention. Two months later, in late November 2015, with symptoms of rabies infection, he finally went to the hospital, but the man did not disclose the bite and checked himself out the next morning, against medical advice. He returned later that day and was dead by the evening — the first mongoose-associated rabies fatality in the island’s history.
The Puerto Rico Department of Health, including an embedded officer from the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), investigated the case. They put the man’s family on post-exposure prophylaxis and scoured for potentially exposed contacts in his community and among hospital staff. Rabies is common among Puerto Rico’s mongoose population, so Emilio Dirlikov, PhD, a second-year EIS officer, and colleagues needed to make sure residents knew to seek medical attention if they are bitten.