Graeme Anderson has died

South African canoeist Graeme Anderson has died. Last month, he rescued a stray hunting dog that was rabid and picked up the illness through an open graze. On Friday, his family was told there was no brain activity, and took the heart-rending decision to take him off life support.
Rabies is an exceptionally dangerous disease. The virus travels along the peripheral nerves to the brain. It had a 100% fatality rate before Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux created a vaccine. It required multiple injections into the abdomen. Modern vaccines against rabies are injected intramuscularly into the deltoid muscle.
If treatment is delayed, the odds of survival plummet. Once symptoms appear, the survival rate is under 10%. Even those treated with the Milwaukee Protocol have a survival rate of only around 8%. Anderson began showing symptoms while on vacation in Mozambique. The delay in diagnosis and treatment is what cost him. He was the first person in South Africa to undergo the Milwaukee Protocol, albeit without success.
Rabies is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. The victim’s best chance for survival is immediate treatment. Washing the bite with soap and water for 5 minutes will remove most rabies virus particles. If available virucidal cleaners should be used. Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) involves giving the patient human rbies immunoglobulin and four shots of rabies vaccine over a fortnight. If the patient has already been vaccinated against rabies, the immunoglobulin is not used. The sooner after exposure PEP is begun, the better. If begun early enough, the survival rate is 100%.
There have been several more cases of rabies reported in KwaZulu-Natal.

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