I dedicate my 3001st post to the girl who survived rabies.

Story-Girl becomes first to survive rabies without vaccine.

Freakin amazing. I’m soooo happy for this girl. She was helping clean the Church that her family are members of when she was bitten by a downed bat with rabies.
She contracted the disease and was not administered the vaccine for some reason.
She has since become the first known person in the world to survive this long.
Looks like she’ll recover, although we don’t know how healthy she’ll end up being. It can take quite a toll, mentally.
Also, it’s a local story. Glad to have some good news for a change. We just had a hunter shoot and kill 6 people in the state last weekend.

The rest of us have just been propped up by modern medicine while she represents the next evolutionary step. I, for one, welcome our new genetically superior Uberleaders.

Anyway, good for her. It looks like they never bothered with the shot until it was too late. I thought animal bites automatically resulted in a rabies shot if not previously vaccinated?

Her parents may not have known if she didn’t think it was worth mentioning. She may have simply treated it the way you would any cut or run-o-the-mill puncture wound – washed if off, got a band-aid.

People can be really, shockingly ignorant of things we often take for granted as being common sense. For example think of some of the recent news stories about kids playing with liquid mercury that resulted in hazmat clean-ups of high schools and homes. For every person that knows that mercury is considered dangerous and you should NOT play with it, there are probably five who go “Oh, cool! Shiny, liquid metal-marbles”.

So I can easily see a teen getting bitten by a strange animal, thinking “Meh, my cat’s done worse” and then deciding not to worry about it unless it starts looking infected later. Other people just delay seeking treatment because of all the out of date stories of “Two weeks of needles in your stomach!” :eek: which scares the crap out of them.

My neighbour separated two fighting cats (bad idea) and had to get the rabies shots. It’s not like the stomach shots anymore.

Hope she does well with no lasting damage. And remember kids, if a strange animal bites you, tell mom and dad and get to a doctor.

She didn’t report the bat encounter until she’d already developed very significant symptoms, far too late for vaccination to do anything. So they resorted to an extremely experimental treatment.

here’s a more current link: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/W/WI_HUMAN_RABIES_WIOL-?SITE=WIMIL&SECTION=STATE&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Qadgop, could you explain how/why a vaccine can be useful after the patient is already infected with the disease? It was my understanding that you need the antibodies in your system before the attack (flu for instance), and why is rabies different, if it is.

How do they diagnose rabies in a person so easily prior to death when with animals it usually requires autopsy of the brain?

I played with liquid mercury A LOT when I was a kid. I’d rub it on anything…including myself. I know it’s considered dangerous, but my entire neighborhood (and most children born before 1970) have survived it. I dunno. I’m just not that scared (unless it’s ingested).

As someone who has had to endure the post exposure series of shots, I can speak with authority when I tell you that no, they don’t give them to you in the stomach anymore, but they’re still uncomfortable.

They can diagnose rabies in humans earlier because antibodies to the virus appear before symptoms appear. Unfortunately, the symptoms are easily mistaken for something minor and people don’t often get treatment. By the time symptoms do appear, it is too late.

I was bitten by a dog and received only a very small scratch; however, due to a number of rabies cases in the area the director of public health insisted I get the post-exposure series. I hemmed and hawed for about a minute (not knowing that the series wasn’t given in the stomach anymore) before he said, “Listen. I’ve been in some Third World countries and I’ve seen people die of rabies. There are lots of nasty ways to die, but rabies is probably one of the worst. Just get the shots.” I asked him, just for informational purposes, what happens if I don’t. He said that I’d eventually become paralyzed, the hospital would intubate me, put me in a coma to alleviate the misery I was in, and then I’d die.

I got the shots.

My dad was an insurance broker for veternarians. He had a bizarre claim once… the vet placed the brain of a suspected rabid animal in one of those biohazard transport containers and they were shipping it to wherever it needed to go for rabies testing. It was on a bus. And the bus crashed. And it turned out to be rabid. I don’t believe anyone contracted it, but it was a full-blown freak-out for all concerned.

IANQTM (obviously), but according to my microbiology class:

• Rabies virus enters the tissue through a skin wound contaminated with saliva, urine, blood or other fluid from an infected animal. The air in a cave inhabited by bats may also transmit the virus.

• The incubation period for rabies varies according to the amount of virus entering the tissue, as well as the proximity of the wound to the central nervous system. Symptoms may appear as few as six days or as long as a year after infection.

• Though only 5-15% of inoculated individuals develop the disease, once symptoms have fully materialized, Rabies is thought to have the highest mortality rate of any human disease.

• Prior to 1980, treatment included up to 24 injections into the abdominal fat of the patient using a vaccine produced using duck embryo–the dreaded stomach shots.

• Since then, vaccine of inactivated viruses is cultivated using human embryonic lung cells, and typically 5 injections are given in the shoulder muscle of the arm. **This treatment is preceded by a thorough cleansing of the suspected infection site, along with a dose of rabies immune globulin which provides immediate antibodies at the source of infection **promoting a more immediate immune response to the pathogen.

• Vaccine can be pretty pricey, and are not administered to the general public since infection is rather rare. Folks in high risk jobs (zoo-keepers, veterinarians, spelunkers) may receive preventative immunization. Around 25,000 post-exposure immunizations are given per year in the US (data from 2001). Worldwide, however, around 50,000 people die of rabies per year.

PSA time:

Mercury is a neurotoxin that is particularly dangerous to the not-fully-developed nervous systems of children. Liquid mercury gives off vapors at room temperature that can be inhaled and enter the bloodstream through the lungs. Mercury vapors are very dangerous and children playing with mercury can be seriously poisoned (acrodynia) if they breathe the vapors. Liquid mercury can also be absorbed though the skin. Some of the organic compounds are known to interfere with fetal development causing birth defects if a pregnant woman was exposed. If the vapors are inhaled they can cause brain, kidney or liver damage. Short-term exposure high levels of mercury vapors may cause lung damage, vomiting and diarrhea.

Unfortuntely as this Purdue site points out:

People also don’t necessarily see the effects immediately, or (kinda like the way smokers know that smoking leads to cancer but they don’t really think they’ll be one of the unlucky ones), they think “well, I didn’t die” so it must “not be as bad as they say - Pshaw! Alarmists!”

Although there are public service announcements up the wazoo, people still play with mercury. Recent “spills” in schools (kids playing with it) have cost about $45,000-$75,000 each in hazmat clean-ups.

And Kalhoun it’s not like you drop dead within seconds of touching the mercury. You also don’t necesarily see it as visible effects. It mostly affects brain functions. So while you may be fine. Kids in you neighbourhood may have been sick and you just never knew it.

I would tend to think that no, actually there are dead children but it was only much later in hindsight that anyone figured out what had been wrong with them.

My shots (I got a series of 7) were around $400 a piece. It was billed to the insurance company of the person on who’s property I was on when I got bit.

I don’t know why, but that thoroughly grossed me out.

A less expensive vaccine (prepared in chick embryos) is being tested according to Alcamo’s Fundamentals of Microbiology, 7th edition. Great for property guy’s insurance company, anyway.

Perhaps it’s the thought of tiny droplets of some unknown bat-fluid suspended in mid-air just waiting for some unwitting person to inhale…

Not perhaps, - exactly.

If you are interested here’s how they Did. The Dr that treated was on NPR today. He said many rabies deaths had very little actual brain damage. So they were thinking it might well be something the virus caused the brain itself to do.

So they shut her brain down. They put her in a coma.

They left her there for long enough for her immune system to take care of the virus.

She is expected to be home by christmas.

Here’s a link…the audio will be available about 7:30 pm eastern.

When I lived in Thailand, I got bitten by a horse on the beach.
Being exceptionally stupid, I didn’t tell my parents until it was too late to go find the horse.
I ended up having the full series of shots in the stomach.
Does it cover it when I say it was not, repeat not, an experience I’d like to re-live.

The audio is there.

I listened to the interview on the way home. Inspiring! I actually work at the same place as a relative of this young gal, and everyone is so thrilled with the outcome thus far!

NoPretentiousCodename otherwise has it pretty much right. Treatment for exposure to rabies consists of injecting immune globulin all around the wound, hoping that it will inactivate any rabies virus present, along with immunizing the patient with standard inactivated virus, hoping to kick in the body’s immunity to the virus before this often slow-moving infection actually gets started doing its damage.

This gal’s body had apparently already produced antibodies, but too late to prevent the onset of the disease.

All in all, an elegant save (I hope), and it demonstrates the miracles of modern medicine!

Is it really a miracle? Or just investigating ways that had never been tried before?

Better question…

Does this signal the end of rabies as a fatal disease?