BALTIMORE — A Maryland resident has died of rabies for the first time in more than 35 years.

State health officials announced the death Tuesday. The department says it’s not known how the person was exposed to the virus. The victim was an adult, but officials are not releasing any further information to protect the person’s privacy.

People exposed to rabies can be treated, and human deaths from the virus are rare. The department says, on average, there have been fewer than five fatal cases nationwide each year. The last death in Maryland occurred in 1976.

People are typically exposed to rabies when they are bitten by an infected animal — in Maryland, most often a raccoon. Dogs and cats can get rabies if they’re not vaccinated as required by state law.

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