A 6-year-old boy from Florida named Ryker Roque died of rabies despite the use of an experimental protocol to treat the condition.
The father of the boy, Henry Roque, confirmed the death of Ryker on Sunday at Today show. According to Roque, Ryker was scratched by a sick bat that Roque had found and then placed in a bucket under the family's porch. The family's pit bull and a cat may also have been infected, according to the local sheriff's office at Orlando Sentinel .
Immediately after they scratched Ryker, his father had him wash his hands. That should have decreased the chances of an infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. However, Ryker was afraid of the shooting, so his parents did not receive additional treatment. A rabies shot given after someone thinks they might be exposed to the virus can save their lives. However, that vaccine will only work if it is given soon after a bite or scratch.
When he arrived at the emergency room A week later, Ryker was already "having hallucinations and convulsions", according to the GoFundMe page of the family. According to the CDC, "once a person begins to show signs of the disease, survival is rare." Only 10 people have survived rabies after showing symptoms; Most of them had received the vaccine at some time before or after being diagnosed.
On Friday, the Florida Department of Health confirmed Newsweek that a case of bat-related rabies had been reported in the state and that the person received no post-exposure treatment.  If it's too late to vaccinate an infected person, some doctors have tried an experimental treatment called the Milwaukee Protocol. Invented in 2004, treatment requires that a person receive medication while in a medically induced coma; a 15-year-old girl from Wisconsin was the first to survive after receiving treatment, according to New Scientist .
However, an article criticizing the technique published in 2016 indicates that the medications used have changed over time. According to that document, the treatment has failed more than 30 times. Two of the people in the United States whose survival has been attributed to the protocol in the last 10 years did not have antibodies to the rabies virus in their blood, which may mean they were not infected with the virus in the first place.  However, it's not as if doctors have something better to try. "We do not have an alternative protocol to present for the therapy of patients with rabies," the authors wrote.
Each year only one or two people in the United States die of rabies. Before Ryker, the last person to die of rabies in the United States was a 65-year-old Virginia woman who was bitten by a dog.