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Monday, June 13th 2011

Surviving Rabies

I remember back in 2004 when a Wisconsin girl became one of the singular, confirmed and well documented cases of an individual surviving rabies without the vaccine.

A girl being treated at the teaching hospital of UC Davis has achieved the same feat it seems to become the third person in the U.S. to survive rabies without the vaccine.

Tests in early May revealed she had the disease after Precious’s grandmother took her to the doctor because of flu-like symptoms that grew so serious her grandmother said they began to resemble polio.

The hospital said doctors followed the protocol first established [in Wisconsin]. Precious was placed in a drug-induced coma as she received anti-viral medications.

She spent two weeks in intensive care undergoing the treatments, and immediately showed that her immune system was strong. She was then moved to the hospital’s general pediatric unit, where she remained Sunday.

Although rabies claim only approximately a dozen people in the United States a year it is a terrifying disease. Failing the vaccine, even best care, the “Wisonsin protocol,” bodes for a poor prognosis. Anyone with open skin exposure to feral or suspicious mammals, including bites or scratches, should certainly seek immediate care.

The 2004 reported survival with coma is found in NEJM.