Presumptive abortive human rabies – Texas, 2009,

Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010 Feb 26; 59(7): 185-90;

Presumptive abortive human rabies – Texas, 2009,
“Rabies is a serious zoonotic disease. Recovery has been well documented in only 6 human patients worldwide. 5 of those patients had received rabies vaccinations before illness; one had not received rabies vaccination but survived infection after prolonged intensive care. In most of these survivors, moderate to profound neurologic sequelae occurred. In all 6 survivors, rabies was diagnosed based on exposure history, compatible clinical symptoms, and detection of rabies virus-neutralizing antibodies (VNA). This report describes the clinical course and laboratory findings of an adolescent girl with
encephalitis who had not had rabies vaccination and who had been exposed to bats 2 months before illness. Antibodies to rabies virus were detected in specimens of the girl’s serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) by indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFA). However, the presence of rabies VNA was not detected until after she had received single doses of rabies vaccine and human rabies immune globulin (HRIG). Although the patient required multiple hospitalizations and follow-up visits for recurrent neurologic symptoms, she survived without intensive care. No alternate etiology was determined, and abortive human rabies (defined in this report as recovery from rabies without intensive care) was diagnosed. Public education should emphasize avoiding exposure to bats and other potentially rabid wildlife and seeking prompt medical attention after exposure to such
animals. Rabies is preventable if rabies immune globulin and vaccine are administered soon after an exposure; however, this case also suggests the rare possibility that abortive rabies can occur in humans and might go unrecognised.”