Four years after she nearly died from rabies, Jeanna Giese is being heralded as the first person known to have survived the virus without receiving a preventative vaccine. But Giese (pronounced Gee-See) says she would gladly share that honor with others if only doctors could show that the treatment used to save her could spare other victims as well. “They shouldn’t stop ’till it’s perfected,” said Giese, now 19, during a recent interview about physicians’ quest to refine the technique that may have kept her alive.
Giese’s wish may come true. Another young girl infected with rabies is still alive more than a month after doctors induced a coma to put her symptoms on hold, just as they did with Giese. Yolanda Caicedo, an infectious disease specialist at Hospital Universitario del Valle in Cali, Colombia, who is treating the latest survivor, confirmed reports in the Colombian newspaper El País that the victim is an eight-year-old girl who came down with symptoms in August, about a month after she was bitten by an apparently rabid cat.
Caicedo said that the family had sought treatment for the bite in Bolivar, at a hospital about three hours by foot from their rural home, but that the child, Nelsy Gomez, did not receive the series of vaccines that can prevent the virus from turning into full-blown rabies.