An elderly man from Ahmednagar District in the Indian state of Maharashtra has died from rabies five years after getting bitten by a dog, according to Indian media.

Close-up of a dog's face during late-stage "dumb" paralytic rabies/CDC
Close-up of a dog’s face during late-stage “dumb” paralytic rabies/CDC

The man was bit on the hand about five years ago and never received rabies prophylaxis. He had no history of an animal bite subsequently.

Physicians say during the clinical examination, he was anxious and scared at the sight of water, flow of air under a fan and had photophobia. He died in late April.

The occurrence of long incubations of human rabies are rare but not unheard of. Several years ago, a case was reported, also in India, of a man who died from rabies some 25 years after receiving an animal bite.

The incubation period of rabies in humans is generally 20–60 days. However, fulminant disease can become symptomatic within 5–6 days; more worrisome, in 1%–3% of cases the incubation period is >6 months. Confirmed rabies has occurred years after exposure, but the reasons for this long latency are unknown.

A global study on canine rabies, published in 2015, has found that 160 people die every single day from the disease.  Even though the disease is preventable, the study says that around 59,000 people die every year of rabies transmitted by dogs.

India has the highest number of fatalities,with over 20,000 human deaths annually.