Rabies: 6-year-old boy dies after bat scratch
A 6-year-old boy died in Florida after being infected with rabies by a bat scratch. In this country, too, it had been warned in the past not to touch such animals with bare hands.
Six year old dies after rabies infection
A few days ago, six-year-old Ryker R. died in the Orlando hospital in Florida after a rabies infection. According to media reports, the boy had been infected by the scratch of a bat. However, his father had brought him to the clinic only days later because he had apparently not recognized the danger. Rapid medical intervention might have saved the 6-year-old's life.
Tens of thousands of deaths every year
Rabies is still considered one of the most dangerous infectious diseases worldwide.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 50,000 and 60,000 people die each year from the preventable disease. In Germany it has been largely eradicated for several years.
The virus has only been detected in bats in Germany in recent years, which is why experts warn that the animals should never be touched with bare hands.
However, the disease is still widespread in many countries in Africa and Asia.
Health experts say the viruses are almost always transmitted through scratches or bites from dogs or other infected mammals.
Ryker R.'s scratch on a bat caused the infection.
Scratch of a bat
The boy's father, Henry R., told NBC News that he found an injured bat, put it in a bucket and told his son not to touch it.
But the little one obviously didn't stick to it: "So, obviously he put his hand in there and touched it and he said that it scratched him," said the father.
He went on to say, "So I quickly googled and found that I had to wash his hands with soap and hot water for five minutes."
But this "treatment" was not enough. However, according to a report by the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, the parents initially did not take their son to the doctor because he was afraid of a possible injection.
Special treatment was unsuccessful
A week later the boy complained of numb fingers and a headache. His father initially thought he hit his head while playing and took him to the Orlando hospital.
There Henry R. remembered the bat again and he told the doctors. “They panicked for the other doctors to tell them it was a bat and how serious the situation was. And then everyone came in, ”said the father, according to the portal“ Today ”.
"We had a conference and they told me that the infection is almost always fatal."
Although Ryker R. received special treatment in the Orlando hospital, which has so far saved the lives of two children in the USA and a total of 18 people worldwide, she did not help the 6-year-old.
The boy died of rabies infection.
There is no cure for rabies
If there is a bite or scratch, the area must be cleaned thoroughly and a doctor consulted. If one waits to see whether rabies symptoms appear, then it is usually too late for therapy.
Infection with the rabies pathogen is usually treated with immediate active vaccination and with special antibodies (immunoglobulin). Preventive vaccination is also available.
There is no cure for rabies. The disease does not break out in everyone who has become infected, but in those who break it out, it is almost 100 percent fatal.
After an infection, there are initially uncharacteristic symptoms such as headache and loss of appetite. Fever does not occur in everyone.
Burning, itching and increased pain sensitivity in the area of the bite wound are also possible. At this stage it may be too late for treatment.
Later, there will be, among other things, cramps in the pharynx and considerable fear of drinking. The patient's mood changes between aggressive and depressive mood.
“Death usually occurs in a coma and under the signs of respiratory paralysis. In untreated patients, there is a maximum of 7 days between the appearance of the first symptoms and death, ”writes the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on its website.
Years can pass before the onset of the disease
“The incubation period is usually three to eight weeks.
In individual cases, it can even take several years for the disease to break out, "explained Professor Dr. med. Tomas Jelinek, Scientific Director of the CRM Center for Travel Medicine in a message.
The expert warns that the risk of rabies should always be borne in mind when traveling abroad, and if necessary be vaccinated beforehand. (ad)