November 27, 2004

Girl Is First to Survive Rabies Without a Shot

Associated Press
Wauwatosa, WI - A unique combination of drugs has made a 15-year-old girl the first known human to survive rabies without vaccination, doctors said.
A team of physicians gambled on an experimental treatment and induced a coma in Jeanna Giese to stave off the usually fatal infection, said Dr. Rodney Willoughby, a pediatric disease infection specialist at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
"No one had really done this before, even in animals," Dr. Willoughby said.
"None of the drugs are fancy. If this works, it can be done in a lot of countries."

Only five persons worldwide before Jeanna are known to have survived rabies after the onset of symptoms, said Dr. Charles Rupprecht, chief of the rabies section at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But they had received standard treatment -- a series of rabies vaccine shots -- before experiencing symptoms.

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John and Ann Giese, of Fond du Lac, said they did not hesitate when doctors approached them about trying the experimental treatment. They already had been told their daughter probably would die.

"Miracles can happen," Mr. Giese said. "We believed it from Day One. We had to convince everyone else."

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