A woman from Wisconsin is the only one in the world who survived rabies without a vaccine - ForumDaily
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Wisconsin woman is the only one in the world to survive rabies without a vaccine

A Wisconsin woman made history after becoming the first person in the world to survive rabies without a vaccine, reports Daily Mail.

Fruit bat in flight

Photo: iStock.com/945ontwerp

20 years ago, Jeanne Giese was bitten by a bat. This happened when a woman was removing an animal from a local church in Wisconsin, USA. A mouse flew into the room and disrupted the service.

While Jeanne was carrying the bat outside, the animal sank its fangs into her index finger on her left hand. Read about whether it is dangerous to kiss pets in our article.

There was no blood, and the wound on Giese's finger was tiny. She didn't think much of it.

Her mother cleaned the wound with hydrogen peroxide (an antiseptic), and the family continued to live as normal.

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But weeks later, the then 15-year-old girl was unable to get out of bed, began vomiting, and developed double vision.

A terrible diagnosis and a miracle

Doctors diagnosed her with rabies, a disease that has a mortality rate of 99%. They said the schoolgirl had only days to live because she missed the 72-hour window to receive the vaccine.


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

“Well, I thought she was going to die. All my knowledge about rabies at that time boiled down to the fact that there was nothing special to do. It really is 100% fatal,” said Dr. Rodney Willoughby, a pediatrician at the hospital that specializes in infectious diseases.

That's when this doctor suggested testing something that had never been tried before. The parents, wanting to save their daughter, said yes.

Giese was placed in a two-week coma to give her immune system time to fight off the rabies. It worked miraculously. The virus has disappeared. But she was like a “newborn baby” and had to learn everything all over again.

“At 15, I was a newborn baby—I couldn’t do anything. The road to recovery was very long and painful, but I did not give up. I think it’s all about my stubbornness,” Giese said.

She remained in the hospital for another nine weeks and then spent two years as an outpatient. It took two months to learn to walk again.

At the time, Jeanne quickly became a world news sensation as the first person to survive rabies.

In 2014, Giese married Scott Frassetto. In March 2016, the couple gave birth to twins, Carly and Connor, and in 2018, a boy named Tristan was born.

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Giese now raises her children and works at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in central Wisconsin.

“It's almost surreal. My life changed completely after my illness in 2004,” admitted Giese.

Milwaukee method

Every year, about 60 Americans are bitten by potentially rabid animals. It is considered a death sentence if you do not receive the vaccine within 000 hours.

Rabies is almost always fatal because it spreads to the brain. There it causes inflammation, which destroys its cells.

But in the case of Giese, it was precisely this vicious circle that doctors tried to break.

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

Now called the Milwaukee method, it was used to save at least two patients. Thanks to this method, eight-year-old Precious Reynolds was saved. She was scratched by a stray cat infected with rabies in 2011.

“Although not all cases have had the same positive outcome, it is incredible that there is now a chance of surviving a disease that was once considered fatal without vaccination,” Giese said. “I’m thrilled to have helped pave the way for this change.”

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