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8-year-old survives rabies without vaccine

June 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
An 8-year-old Northern California girl is lucky to be alive after contracting rabies.

Precious Reynolds is one of a few people known to have survived the infection without receiving a rabies vaccine.

The girl's grandmother says she initially thought the girl had the flu until the symptoms became more severe.

Reynolds, of Willow Creek, Calif., was treated by pediatricians at the University of California Davis Children's Hospital in coordination with federal and California health officials, the hospital said in a statement.

"We knew that it was very critical, and in contacting our other specialists around the nation, we found out the mortality rate was probably 95 to 98 percent," said Dr. Theresa Vlautin of UC Davis Children's Hospital.

The hospital said she's the third person in the United States known to have recovered from the virus without having antiviral inoculations immediately after becoming infected, a figure confirmed by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics on rabies cases.

Nurses at the hospital thought her chances were slim when she arrived at the pediatric intensive care unit.

"None of us thought she would leave the PICU," Krystle Realyvasquez, a nurse who cared for Precious, said in the statement. "When she did it was unbelievable."

Health officials believe the girl got the infection two months ago from a feral cat near her elementary school.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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