Humble student infected with rabies

via the Houston Chronicle: | Humble student infected with rabies

May 10, 2006, 1:04PM
Humble student infected with rabies after apparent bat bite

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

An Humble High School sophomore infected with rabies is fighting for his life as federal and county disease investigators try to determine how many of the student’s classmates may need preventive treatment, a school official said today.

The student may have been exposed to a bat approximately four weeks ago one afternoon while asleep in his bedroom, said Humble ISD executive director for public information Karen Collier. Reportedly, a neighbor saw the bat hovering above the victims face, caught it with a towel and threw the bat back out of the open window.

The student began showing symptoms Thursday and was admitted to Texas Children’s Hospital, Collier said….

The article has links to the CDC’s Rabies info page, as well as a link to an article about the Milwaukee survivor last year. Really, the Chronicle did a nice job with the reporting and the other links: it’s an excellent example of how to integrate the dead-tree publication with the online presence. Excellent.

Humble, Texas map.

A four-week incubation period seems really short, indicating that the victim was probably infected near the head. (Rabies travels up nerves to the brain, which is when the symptoms start; get bitten on the ankle it takes longer for the virus to make the trip than if bitten on the face).

My prayers to this young man and his family.

Update: CDC’s Health Alert Network email in the extended entry –

Final update: He died. More prayers for all affected.

From the CDC’s Health Alert Network:

May 10, 2006
This is an official CDC Health Update distributed via the Health
Alert Network (HAN) May 10, 2006
12:40 EDT (12:40PM EDT).

Confirmation of Human Rabies Infection in Texas
On May 9, 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
working together with Harris County Public Health and Environmental
Services (HCPHES) and the Texas Department of State Health Services
(TDSHS), confirmed a diagnosis of rabies as the cause of illness in a
Texas teenager, who has been hospitalized with encephalitis. This
advisory provides information about this case, an update for states
that may receive inquiries due to public concerns about rabies, and
criteria for conducting risk assessments to determine the need for
postexposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Four to six weeks prior to admission, the patient had awakened due to
direct contact with a live bat in his bedroom. The bat was removed
from the home and was not available for testing. Bats are a widely
distributed reservoir of rabies throughout the United States. The
child did not present for medical attention until after symptoms had
developed, thus rabies PEP was not administered. Diagnosis was made
on the basis of a positive direct fluorescent antibody test for
rabies virus antigen on a nuchal skin biopsy. Further analysis of
clinical specimens is ongoing in an effort to establish a likely
animal source for the infection, based upon viral characterization.

HCPHES and TDSHS, in collaboration with CDC, are continuing to
conduct investigations to identify contacts of the patient among
family members, the local community, and health-care workers and to
identify other persons who may have had contact with the bat at the
same time as the patient. Human rabies PEP is recommended only in
situations in which potentially infectious material (e.g. saliva)
from a rabid animal or human is introduced via a bite, or comes into
direct contact with broken skin or mucous membranes. More detailed
information regarding evaluation for and administration of PEP is
available at

Additional information about rabies and its prevention is available
from HCPHES at 713-212-0200, TDSHS at 512-458-7455 and CDC, telephone
1-800-CDC-INFO or at This
website is updated as new information becomes available.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only
and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and
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  1. We have been so fortunate in Texas with Rabies over the past decade or so. Those of us who grew up here in the 50s, ’60s and so on remember the problems and how hard the various medical and civic groups worked to eliminate it. In Austin (the State Laboratory) there is a memorial to a scientist that got rabies and died from it. My wife went through the series of rabies shots when she was a child.

    The problem is the things we were told/warned about in the Public Schools, like rabies prevention, tooth care and so on have been replaced by more politically correct and socially enriching activities.