ATLANTA, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. health officials said Thursday an 8-year-old girl was hospitalized, ultimately diagnosed with rabies and survived, even though rabies is usually fatal.
A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said the girl caught the disease after contact with free-roaming cats.
"To help make recovery possible, a process was initiated that suppresses brain activity in order to help the immune system fight the rabies virus. The girl survived and was discharged after a 52-day hospitalization," the report said. "This is the third reported case of recovery from rabies in a patient who was unvaccinated before illness onset."
Despite these cases, rabies is usually fatal, CDC officials said. However, it is preventable via vaccination of domestic animals such as dogs and cats and avoidance of wild or unfamiliar animals.
"When an exposure has occurred, a preventive vaccine known as PEP can prevent infection," the report said.
In addition, physicians caring for patients with acute progressive encephalitis should consider rabies in the differential diagnosis and pursue laboratory diagnostic testing when indicated, CDC officials said.