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Long-Term Health Good in Rabies Patient Treated by Coma

Few physical, no mental difficulties after induced coma and antiviral agents

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- A 15-year-old girl treated with induced coma and antiviral agents after contracting rabies is in good health more than two years later, with few physical and no mental difficulties, according to a letter to the editor published in the Aug. 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

William T. Hu, M.D., Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues describe the 27-month follow-up of a 15-year-old girl who developed rabies encephalitis in 2005 after being bitten by a rabid bat. She recovered after being treated with a regimen that included ketamine, ribavirin and amantadine, and induced coma.

The researchers found that the patient still had fluctuating dysarthria, gait difficulties and the occasional feeling of cold in the feet. She had no difficulty with normal daily activities including driving, took several college-level courses, scored well on a national college achievement test, graduated from high school and planned to attend college.

"The combined treatment with antiexcitatory agents (ketamine, midazolam and phenobarbital) and antiviral agents (ketamine, amantadine and ribavirin) used by Willoughby et al. [the authors of the original report describing the girl's case] may have contributed to this patient's favorable outcome, and such treatment warrants further evaluation," Hu and colleagues conclude.

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