A recent rabies death in a Russian man highlights multiple screw-ups that led to the man’s death.
A 50-year-old man in Smolino Kovvrosko, Russia was bitten by his cat at the end of February.
- Problem #1. The cat was presumably not vaccinated against rabies. Vaccination is not 100% protective but it’s pretty likely this was an unvaccinated animal. If the cat was vaccinated, the chance of it having rabies would have been very low.
The man went to the local "medical assistant," but rabies prophylaxis was not given.
- Problem #2. Here was the opportunity to initiate the discussion about rabies. This would involve querying the health status of the animal and quarantining it for 10 days to see if it developed signs of rabies (which would indicate the need for post-exposure treatment). These things weren’t done.
A few days later, the cat started acting strangely. A local vet euthanized the cat. Rabies was not discussed.
- Problem #3. Malpractice. Plain and simple. A cat with neurological disease needs to be considered a rabies suspect. Bite history must be queried before euthanizing an animal. If rabies testing had been performed or if rabies had been mentioned as a possibility, the man might have been treated.
At multiple time points, there were chances to identify the potential for rabies, but multiple people screwed up and the man died as a result. Rabies is virtually 100% preventable with proper post-exposure treatment, but virtually 100% fatal by the time someone develops disease.