A teenager in Brazil has enjoyed a rare recovery from the rabies infection. He is in a very select group of survivors from the virus and the first ever from Brazil.
The fifteen year old was bitten by an infected bat in the state of Pernambuco. After being in the hospital for a month the youth has been declared clear of the virus.
There have only been three known cases where an infected person has survived the virus. There are five other cases where people have survived from suspected rabies infection.
The virus is transmitted from an infected animals. Dogs, cats and bats are often the hosts that carry the virus to humans. The infection travels from the infected animals saliva when they bite, scratch or lick a human. The infection causes inflammation in the brain and is almost always fatal.
Brazil’s health ministry is now investigating why the teen was not given a rabies vaccine as soon as he was bitten. Instead the boy was treated with a combination of antiviral drugs, sedatives and injected anesthetics. The Milwaukee procedure is named after the U.S. city where it was first applied successfully in 2004.
The story of the boy’s survival will be published in an international medical journal by the doctors at the Oswaldo Cruz University Hospital in Recife. It is not known if the teen will suffer permanent motor function problems from the treatment.
Brazil aims to eradicate rabies transmitted to humans from tame animals like cats and dogs by 2010. There is an ongoing vaccination campaign for pets to achieve this goal.