WI Teen Rabies Victim
Said 'Improving'

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello Jeff - There have been only three documented cases of people surviving rabies after symptoms began.
In October, we learned about a case of a teen who was bitten by a rabid bat in Wisconsin in September, and admitted to hospital Oct. 18, 2004 with symptoms of rabies.
There has been virtually NO information about the teen and initial reports were misleading indicating the teen was a young boy.
Information is now beginning to emerge that indicates the teen, a young girl, is improving. This is amazing. Rabies is known to be fatal once symptoms begin.
Let us all continue to pray for this young girl and hope that she will be able to survive and live a normal life. A miracle is happening in Wisconsin and pray it will continue.
From ProMED-mail
Rabies Victim Improving But Long-Term Effect Unknown
By Meg Jones
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
While a 15-year-old Fond du Lac girl infected with rabies is showing signs of improvement, doctors on Monday [8 Nov 2004] stressed that she's far from recovered. The girl was in grave condition last month [October 2004] at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa but recently has recognized her family, responded to commands to move her toes, and is intermittently alert. But, she remains on a respirator in intensive care.
"Although preliminary indications are that [her] condition will continue to improve, this is new territory," Rodney E. Willoughby, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Children's Hospital, said in a statement. "We are now in a wait-and-see mode. It will be quite some time before we know what [her] long-term prognosis will be," Willoughby said.
The girl, a student at St. Mary's Springs High School, was bitten by a bat on 12 Sep 2004, during a church service in Fond du Lac, but didn't seek immediate treatment. Rabies can be prevented with a vaccine before symptoms appear. But, it was too late for the girl, who was admitted to the hospital on 18 Oct 2004. Only 3 people in the world are known to have survived after the onset of rabies symptoms. Nearly all die within weeks of developing symptoms.
The last 2 cases of rabies in Wisconsin -- in 2000 and 1959 -- were acquired from bat bites. Rabies is a virus that infects the brain and peripheral nerves, causing severe brain disease and paralysis.
[It is generally considered that, once symptoms develop, rabies virus infection in humans is invariably fatal. Nonetheless, there are rare published accounts of partial and near-full recovery of children and adults: the most recent being "Madhusudana, S.N. et al. 2002. Partial recovery from rabies in a six-year-old girl. Int J Infect Dis. 6(1):85-6." We hope that the Wisconsin patient will join this rare band of survivors. - Mod.CP]
see also:
Rabies, human, bat - USA (WI) 20041021.2853
Rabies, bats - USA (multistate): alert 20040906.2491



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