Woman Makes History By Becoming the First Woman To Survive Rabies Without a Vaccine

It was 20 years ago that Jeanna Giese was bitten by a bat as she carried it out of her local church in Wisconsin after the flying mammal disrupted the service. There was no blood, and the wound on Jeanna’s left index finger was so tiny that it was barely visible. At the time, she didn’t think much of it. Three weeks later, the then 15-year-old became so tired she couldn’t get out of bed, developed double vision, and began vomiting. Doctors diagnosed her with rabies, a disease that kills 99% of victims, and told her parents that she only had days left to live because she had missed the 72-hour window for the vaccine to be administered. Then her doctor decided to try something that had never been done before. Jeanna was placed in a 2-week coma to give her immune system time to fight the rabies. Miraculously, it worked. After spending 2 years in recovery, where she learned to walk and talk again, Jeanna went on to graduate, marry and become the mother of three. About 60,000 Americans are bitten by potentially rabid animals every year, which is considered a death sentence if they don’t get the vaccine within 72 hours. Rabies is nearly always fatal because it spreads to the brain, where it causes inflammation that destroys brain cells. In Jeanna’s case, the induced coma prevented the deadly build-up of inflammation, saving her life. Now known as the “Milwaukee Method,” it has since been used to save the lives of at least 2 other patients.