Rabies tends to be thought of as a backwoods disease, an illness only found by people on the frontier.
Plus, given advances in medical science, hydrophobia (another name for the illness) can easily be cured with a few shots — right?
Not exactly. There’s a reason why many experts consider rabies the most deadly virus in the world, and the terrible case of one Florida family shows the dangers in ignoring possible exposure.
When Henry Roque found a sick bat near his Florida home, he never imagined it would cost the life of his six-year-old son, Ryker.
“[I] found a bat, put it in a little bucket, put it on the porch and I had asked my son, ‘Don’t touch it under any circumstances,’” he explained to NBC News.
But Ryker didn’t listen to his father.
“So, apparently he put his hand in there and touched it and he said it only scratched him, so I frantically googled it real quick and it says to wash his hands with soap, hot water for five minutes.”
Roque said he knew he should’ve taken his boy to get shots after the exposure.
But Ryker cried so much that he relented and assumed the worst was past.
It wasn’t. About a week later, the boy said he had a headache and his fingers felt numb, so Roque sped him to the hospital, assuming that he’d struck his head while playing.
The medical professionals’ response was dramatic. “I mean, alarms, bells, whistles went off,” Roque said.
“They went frantically looking for the other doctors to tell them that it was a bat and how severe it was. … We had a conference and they explained to me that it’s almost always lethal.”
Physicians decided to try something called the Milwaukee protocol, a treatment that involved sedation and administration of antiviral drugs.
The protocol has saved roughly 20 people across the globe.
But it didn’t work for little Ryker. He passed away on Jan. 14.
“Tragic” is the only way to describe the senseless death of this little one, and yet his passing serves as an important example: Every exposure to a wild animal is serious and needs medical attention.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.