Unique clinical and imaging findings in a first ever documented PCR positive rabies survival patient: A case report

J Clin Virol. 2015 Sep:70:83-88. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2015.07.003. Epub 2015 Jul 7.


Background: Rabies is fatal encephalitis which is a major public health problem in Asian and African countries. Till date, only 12 cases have been reported who have survived after rabies.

Case report: In this communication we report a patient who is unique as the first documented long term rabies survivor with PCR positivity even after 4½ years of illness. Child sustained dog bite following which he received adequate prophylaxis. Within two weeks, child developed encephalopathy requiring evaluation. Child continues to have persistent myoclonic jerks, seizures, is dependent on all activities with severe neurological deficits. Nested reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) specific for rabies nucleoprotein gene in CSF and nuchal skin biopsy were positive for rabies viral RNA. The nuchal skin biopsy was also positive for rabies nucleoprotein antigen by fluorescent antibody test (FAT). We describe the clinical evolution and sequential MRI brain changes in this child.

Conclusions: Despite the uniformly dismal prognosis of human rabies, these unusual reports of survival of rabies patients may provide an impetus to explore newer therapeutic strategies for this otherwise fatal disease.

Keywords: PCR positive rabies survivor; Rabies encephalopathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cats
  • Child
  • Dogs
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rabies / diagnosis*
  • Rabies / therapy
  • Rabies / virology*
  • Rabies virus / genetics*
  • Treatment Outcome