A new report from the CDC chronicles the tragic case of a 65-year-old Virginia woman who was bit by a dog during a yoga retreat in India and died some weeks later from rabies, the New York Daily News reports. “Despite aggressive treatment,” per the report, the unnamed woman became the ninth person in the US since 2008 to die from rabies, a disease that kills some 59,000 people throughout the world each year. A puppy bit the woman while she was in Rishikesh in early 2017. “I don’t believe that she was playing with the puppy, but the puppy was seen in the area and approached her,” Julia Murphy, Virginia’s state public health veterinarian, tells NBC. The woman reportedly cleaned the wound, but she took no other precautions. It wasn’t until she was back home in May, some six weeks later, that she began to show symptoms.
But once symptoms—including pain, anxiety, insomnia, and trouble swallowing water—appeared on May 7, the disease progressed rapidly. Eventually, doctors attempted the Milwaukee protocol, “an experimental protocol … that has demonstrated inconsistent, rare success,” which involves putting the patient into an induced coma. On May 21, the woman’s family withdrew medical support and she died. According to the CDC, rabies treatment is very successful if it is administered before symptoms appear. But once symptoms are present, rabies is almost always fatal. Two people in the US and a few more worldwide have survived rabies after symptoms appeared; they were treated with the Milwaukee protocol, which has failed in other cases. (After using a neti pot, this woman died from brain-eating amoebas.)