A few more details are available about the apparent case of a person surviving rabies infection that I also wrote about in a post a few days ago. The affected individual is an eight-year-old girl from Willow Creek, California. She initially had non-specific signs of illness (which is not unusual for rabies) and at her first visit to a doctor, it was thought that she probably had the flu. However, her illness progressed quickly and she developed severe neurological signs shortly thereafter. She was sent to the University of California Davis Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with rabies a week later. I’m not sure if they suspected rabies before the diagnosis and started treatment, or whether they didn’t initiate treatment until after the diagnosis was made. Presumably, they started treated based on a suspicion of rabies because she would have deteriorated greatly during that week otherwise.
Her current health status isn’t reported so it’s not clear whether she is truly out of the woods or whether there are any residual neurological abnormalities. If treatment is successful, this girl would be only the fifth person (as far as my count goes) known to have survived rabies infection. Presumably she was treated with a form of the Milwaukee protocol, which involves putting the patient in a medically-induced coma and administering a series of anti-rabies drugs. When it was first reported to be successful, this protocol was hailed as a remarkable breakthrough in the management of rabies (which is was). However, it still has a low success rate, which is a testament to the severity of rabies and the often late recognition and initiation of treatment. Hopefully more details about the treatment protocol and her clinical status will be made available soon.
On a happy related note, Jeanna Giese, the girl who in 2004 became the first known rabies survivor in the world, graduated from College a few weeks ago at the age of 21.