Florida boy, 6, dies of rabies a week after touching a sick bat he found in the garden
17 January, 2018, 02:09
A six-year-old boy has died from rabies he contracted after being scratched by an infected bat.
Ryker became infected after his father, Henry Roque, found a sick bat, put it in a bucket and told his son not to touch it.
On Friday, the Florida Department of Health confirmed to Newsweek that a case of bat-related rabies had been reported in the state and that the person did not receive post-exposure treatment.
Ryker was scratched by the bat, but seemed fine, school officials said. Before Ryker, the last person to die of rabies in the United States was a 65-year-old Virginia woman who was bitten by a dog.
This step can reduce the risk of infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but it's also important to visit a doctor as soon as possible to determine whether a vaccine is necessary. With his son in tears at the thought of getting a vaccine shot in case the bat had rabies, Roque avoided the hospital and thoroughly washed the scratch instead.
The family was trying an experimental technique called the Milwaukee protocol, which has saved at least two other children in the USA and 18 people around the world, according to its inventor, Dr. Rodney Willoughby of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
The treatment has only worked twice in the U.S. and 18 times around the world.
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It was developed by Rodney Willoughby in 2004 when successfully performed on 15-year-old Jeanna Giese from Wisconsin.
It was too late for typical treatment so doctors experimented with the protocol.
The protocol has only worked in two cases in the USA, leading researchers to believe it is dependent on the form of the virus contracted. But the few USA cases are usually in children who have been bitten by bats and either do not realize they were bitten - bats have tiny teeth - or are unable to say so.
The treatment involves putting the patient into a coma while administering anti-viral drugs.
Any mammal can get rabies, and the disease causes terrible symptoms as the virus attacks the nervous system.
Early symptoms include fever, headache and weakness. But once symptoms start to show, the disease has spread to the brain and is virtually impossible to stop.
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