PRB Investigates Case of Human Rabies in Virginia Resident Who Traveled to India
In May 2017, investigators from CDC’s Poxvirus and Rabies Branch (PRB) confirmed a case of human rabies in a 65-year-old Virginia resident who was bitten by a rabid dog while touring India in January and developed symptoms after returning home. Rabies is the deadliest infectious disease in the world: once symptoms develop, there is no cure. Only two people are known to have survived the illness in the United States.
The patient’s family chose to pursue the Milwaukee rabies protocol, an aggressive, experimental course of treatment, which includes putting the patient into an induced coma and administering antiviral drugs. But when the patient did not improve, they withdrew her from the treatment on May 21 and she died shortly after. Another tour member who was bitten by the same dog has initiated post-exposure prophylaxis treatment and is currently in good health.
This case highlights the high global burden of canine rabies, and the continued risks to travelers in India and other countries where canine rabies is common. CDC rabies experts and their international partners continue to support these countries in developing effective national rabies control programs. In some cases, rabies vaccination may be recommended for people working in or traveling to countries where canine rabies occurs. It is always important to keep the risks for rabies in mind and follow safety precautions, like avoiding stray dogs and other animals.