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New Rabies Treatment Saves Life of Bat-bite Victim

An article recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine details the unique combination of medicines doctors in the United States used last fall to save the life of a teenage girl infected with rabies.

Jeanna Giese, who was bitten by a bat, is the only person in the world known to have survived a bite by a rabid animal without traditional vaccination.

The breakthrough treatment that saved her life is documented in the New England Journal of Medicine. The approach has been used twice since. A man in Germany received a modified version of the protocol, but died after 56 days. Another patient in India has also received the treatment. Doctors are closely monitoring that patient's condition.

Giese was bitten last September and left the wound untreated for a month until her condition worsened. Doctors at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin tried a last-resort, experimental treatment. They put the teen in a weeklong coma and used a "cocktail" of four classes of drugs to combat the disease.

Dr. Hoffman was one of her physicians at the hospital. “Was there anything right off the shelf, right from the Patent Office, to here? No. These are commonly used drugs that have fairly known effect and side effect profiles.”

Doctors say her parents' desperate plea to "do what you have to do" allowed them to improvise an aggressive approach. But doctors believe medicine played only a part in saving her life. “

This is just an array of luck, a miracle, power of prayer, whatever,” said another of her physicians, Dr. Willoughby.

Giese has suffered no brain damage and is on the long road to recovery. While she still has trouble walking, doctors say she is making remarkable progress. She has already returned to school.