6-year-old dies from rabies after being scratched by an infected bat

Bat upside down on a branch. (Getty Images)
Bat upside down on a branch. (Getty Images)

A 6-year-old boy has tragically died from rabies after being scratched by an infected bat in a wooded area near his home in Eustis, Fla. Ryker Roque’s scratch reportedly went untreated, and he started experiencing hallucinations and convulsions a few weeks after he was bitten.

His family rushed him to the emergency room.

“The doctors explained that if it was rabies, he had a zero percent chance of survival,” the family’s GoFundMe page explained. A few days after he was hospitalized, tests showed that Ryker was, indeed, positive for rabies.

Desperate, the family opted for an experimental procedure to try to save the boy’s life. The therapy, dubbed the Milwaukee Protocol, requires a patient to be treated with antiviral drugs while in a medically induced coma.

In 2004, a 15-year-old Wisconsin girl underwent the therapy and became the first human ever to survive rabies without vaccination.

Unfortunately, the procedure didn’t work on Ryker, and he died on Sunday.

In unvaccinated humans, rabies is almost always fatal after neurological symptoms have appeared, so it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as possible after exposure, preferably within six days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tens of thousands of people each year are successfully protected from developing rabies through vaccination after being bitten.

One of the most common ways for humans to contract rabies is through a bat (they spread the disease through saliva), so it’s important to remind children not to touch wild animals.

When bitten by an unknown animal, the CDC recommends washing the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seeking immediate medical attention.

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