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Moroni man first Utah rabies-related death in nearly 75 years

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MORONI — The first Utah rabies-related death since 1944 has been confirmed in Sanpete County.

Gary Giles, 55, died Sunday after several weeks of strange symptoms. He had been suffering muscle pain, numbness, shortness of breath, and disorientation.

Knowing it is illegal to kill a wild bat, Giles’ wife Juanita says they frequently caught the animals which had gotten into their home with their hands and let them go outside.

“I always thought bats were very cute,” says Juanita. “I didn’t realize the dangers that was involved with that.”

It took medical professionals until the day before Giles’ family took him off life support to realize rabies was culprit after multiple hospital visits.

“They never bit us and scratched us,” explains Giles. “But they did like to lick our fingers.”

Experts say the disease can be passed by an infected animal’s saliva. Epidemiologists say once contracted, rabies is almost always fatal in humans.