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I was the first person in the world to survive RAGE without a vaccine.

By Luke Andrews, Senior Health Reporter for Dailymail.Com

3:37 p.m. on May 13, 2024, updated at 3:40 p.m. on May 13, 2024

A Wisconsin woman who made history after becoming the first person in the world to survive rabies without a vaccine says it’s “surreal” that she’s still here today.

Twenty years ago this year, Jeanna Giese was bitten by a bat while carrying it out of her local church in Wisconsin, US, where it had flown in and disrupted a service.

There was no blood and the wound on her left index finger was so small that it was barely visible, so she didn’t pay it much attention.

But three weeks later, the 15-year-old was so tired she couldn’t get out of bed and began vomiting and having double vision.

Doctors diagnosed her with rabies, a disease with a 99 percent mortality rate, saying she only had a few days left because she had missed the 72-hour deadline for administering the vaccine.

Jeanna Giese was 15 when she was bitten by a rabid bat at church. She said the bite was microscopic but within three weeks she had double vision and ended up in an induced coma in hospital.
Ms. Giese survived after doctors tried something on her that had never been tried before. In 2014, ten years after the 2004 bite, she married Scot Frassetto.
The couple first had twins, Carly and Connor, and then a baby boy named Tristan.

But then her doctor suggested she try something that had never been done before to treat the virus.

Ms Giese was placed in a coma for two weeks to give her immune system time to fight off rabies – which, miraculously, worked.

After spending two years in recovery where she learned to walk and talk again, Ms. Giese married and became the mother of three children.

Revealing her life after infection in 2004, she told CBS7: “It’s almost surreal to think about, you know, 20 years old. My life completely changed when I got sick.

About 60,000 Americans are bitten by potentially rabid animals each year, which is considered a death sentence if someone doesn’t get vaccinated within 72 hours.

Rabies is almost always fatal because it spreads to the brain where it causes inflammation that destroys brain cells.

But in Ms. Giese’s case, that’s exactly the cycle doctors tried to break.

They placed her in an induced coma to suppress brain activity and prevent this deadly buildup of inflammation.

Now known as the Milwaukee Method, it has since been used to save at least two other patients, including eight-year-old Precious Reynolds who was scratched by a rabies-infested stray cat in 2011.

On the day that changed her life, Ms Giese went to search the church for a bat that was flying during the service before being squashed.

However, while the animal lover was carrying him outside, the animal leaned down and sank its fangs into her third index finger of her left hand.

There was blood and it “hurt a lot”, Ms Giese said, but once the wound was cleaned the mark was practically microscopic.

Ms Giese was in an induced coma for two weeks, but when she returned she was “like a baby” and had to spend two years learning to walk, talk and care for herself again.
She is pictured above in a wheelchair during her recovery process at her home in Wisconsin.
Ms Giese said doctors had warned that when she started treatment she was likely to end up “like a vegetable”.

His mother cleaned the wound with hydrogen peroxide – an antiseptic – and the family then moved on with their lives.

But three weeks later, Ms. Giese became so tired that she could not get out of bed, had double vision and began vomiting regularly.

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Her parents rushed her to a nearby hospital, where doctors tested her for various illnesses, including meningitis and Lyme disease, but all came back negative.

She was then transferred to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where doctors “went white” when her parents said she was bitten by a bat about a month ago. Samples were sent to the CDC for testing which quickly revealed she had rabies.

Dr. Rodney Willoughby, a pediatrician at the hospital who specializes in infectious diseases, said: “Well, I thought she was going to die.

“That’s what they all did. At the time, my knowledge about rabies was such that there wasn’t much I could do. It really is 100 percent fatal.

It was then that Dr Willoughby suggested trying something that had never been tried before, with the parents saying yes, wanting to save their daughter.

She was placed in a coma for 14 days and when she woke up the virus was gone, but she was like a “newborn” and had to relearn everything.

Ms Giese added: “I was basically a newborn at 15 years old. I could not do anything.

“The road to recovery was very long and painful. (But) I didn’t stop. I guess it’s personal stubbornness.

Ms Giese now also works in a children’s museum (photo). She reveals her story to raise awareness of rabies treatments among unvaccinated people
Ms Giese revealed her story again 20 years after her first brush with the disease
Dr Rodney Willoughby, pictured, suggested the experimental method to treat the disease.

Ms. Giese stayed in the hospital for nine weeks, then underwent outpatient therapy for two years. Learning to walk again took two months.

At the time, she quickly became a global sensation as the first person to survive rabies.

She then returned to school before graduating, and in 2014 married her husband Scot Frassetto.

The couple welcomed twins in March 2016, named Carly and Connor, and then a baby boy in 2018, named Tristan.

Ms. Giese now raises her family while also working at the Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac in central Wisconsin.

Speaking to the Guardian about her experience late last year, she added: “A few other people have since recovered from rabies using the same method.

“Even though not every case had the same positive outcome, it is incredible that there is now a chance of surviving a disease once considered fatal without vaccination.”

“I’m thrilled to know that I helped pave the way for this change.”

News Source : www.dailymail.co.uk
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