Although death by rabies is nearly inevitable after symptoms begin, there are a few that have survived the deadly virus. In India, a 16-year-old native of Gurdaspur had reportedly survived rabies after becoming comatose and treated at the Command Hospital (Western Command), Chandimandir, Panchkula, according to multiple Indian news sources here and here.
The Deccan Herald says the teen, Hira Singh, had been bitten by a stray dog on March 25, and was given four doses of anti-rabies vaccine at a local hospital. He slipped into a coma by April 29. He needed a ventilator and airway support when shifted from a private hospital to Command Hospital with diagnosis of rabies on May 8.
He has now awaken, although unable to speak due to brain damage, the report notes. “He is “awake and in a partially paralyzed state,” Colonel F M H Ahmed, neurologist at Command Hospital said.
Dr Vivek Lal, Professor and Head of Neurology at Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh said, “The neurological disease had abated and the patient is indeed a rabies survivor. I never imagined that I would ever get to see a rabies survivor in my lifetime.” The two reports say this patient is the 13th or 14th known survivor of rabies.
Of course we remember several years ago when then 15-year-old Wisconsin Jeanna Geise became the world’s first known survivor of Rabies without receiving any vaccination. Jenna survived with an experimental treatment called the Milwaukee Protocol.
And we can go back to the 1970s to find rabies survivor, Matt Winkler, who survived rabies becoming as the report notes, “the first person on record to survive rabies”.
According to the World Health Organization, Rabies is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted to humans from animals) that is caused by a virus. The disease affects domestic and wild animals, and is spread to people through close contact with infectious material, usually saliva, via bites or scratches.
Rabies is present on all continents with the exception of Antartica, but more than 95% of human deaths occur in Asia and Africa. Once symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is nearly always fatal. More than 55 000 people die of rabies every year mostly in Asia and Africa. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page