Entries in Rabies (2)


Teen Dies of Rabies After Getting Bit by Vampire Bat in Mexico

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- While enjoying a night boat ride on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee with friends, Adam Giroux suddenly felt something crawling up his leg. He jumped up, frantically trying to get whatever it was in his pants out of his pants.

"I finally got it out, and we saw that it was a bat," said Giroux, 27. "I wasn't sure if it had bitten me because there weren't really any bite marks. But to play it safe, I went to the emergency room."

Giroux explained his bat debacle to hospital staff. Moments later, doctors began administering rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.

"I got two shots in each arm and four shots directly into my stomach muscles, and then two months later, I was getting follow-up shots every other week," said Giroux. "It was pretty serious, but it was better than the alternative."

While cumbersome and certainly uncomfortable, the shots allowed Giroux to walk away from his bat encounter unscathed.

While most people think of dogs, raccoons or skunks as potential rabies carriers, bats are a major source of the disease in the United States, experts say. And on Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that a Mexican teenager had become the first person on U.S. soil to die from rabies after getting bit by a vampire bat.

According to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the 19-year-old man arrived to work on a Louisiana sugar cane plantation in July 2010. After one of day working in the field, he began to experience fatigue, pain in his left shoulder and numbness in his left hand. His condition gradually worsened, and on Aug. 21, he died of rabies. After public health officials interviewed friends and family, they figured out that he had been bitten by a vampire bat in Mexico, 10 days before arriving in the U.S.

"This ... highlights the importance of a global perspective for human rabies prevention and the changing epizootiology of rabies," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in the report. "Since 2000, eight of the 32 human rabies cases reported in the United States (including the case described in this report) were acquired from exposures abroad."

The rabies virus has an average incubation period of 85 days. In this case, symptoms showed within 15 days.

Once exposed, the rabies virus makes its way to broken nerve endings, then works its way back from the bite site toward the spinal cord.

"Once it's in the central nervous system, it attaches to the brain," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "Then there is inflammation of the central nervous system, and a person will get interference in the way they think and eventually lapse into a coma."

Experts say that as soon as exposure to a rabid animal is suspected, it's important to consult a doctor and receive a post-exposure prophylaxis vaccine. The vaccine will prevent them from getting rabies, which is almost always fatal.

But as this vampire bat continues to make headlines, it's important to understand that there are bats already carrying the deadly rabies virus in the United States.

In 2009, U.S. health officials tested 30,000 bats from several dozen different species for rabies. Dr. John Williams of the department of pediatric infectious disease medicine at Vanderbilt said that six percent, or about one out of 15 bats, tested positive for rabies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


California Girl Survives Rabies Without Receiving Vaccine

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- An eight-year-old girl from California is said to be the third person in the U.S. to have recovered from a rabies infection without ever receiving the vaccine, according to the University of California Davis Children's Hospital.

Health officials believe Precious Reynolds may have become infected by a feral cat she encountered near her elementary school in Willow Creek, California.  However, because this was never confirmed and the date on which she contracted rabies is not known, Reynolds never received the antiviral inoculations that are usually given after being exposed to the infection.

After being admitted to UC Davis Children's Hospital, a team of hospital staff along with help from state, local and federal officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, worked diligently to treat Reynolds.

"Precious received superb care from everyone at UC Davis Children's Hospital," said Jean Wiedeman, associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases.  "And we were enveloped with support from the CDC and the state encephalitis group from the moment we learned she was infected."

"From the very beginning, Precious had a very rapid, robust immune response to her infection, which is a significant contributor to why she survived," Wiedeman added.  "She is truly a fighter."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio