Wisconsin rabies survivor has 2nd brush with disease after dogs bite bat at Fond du Lac home

  • Updated: August 2, 2013 - 10:35 AM

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — A Wisconsin woman who was the first person known to survive rabies without a vaccine had a second brush with the disease this week when her dogs chewed on an infected bat.

Jeanna Giese was bitten by a rabid bat in 2004 at a Fond du Lac church. She survived after a doctor at Children's Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin used an experimental mixture of drugs and a medically induced coma to treat the disease.

Giese told The Reporter Media (http://fondul.ac/15AmbPG ) she spotted a bat Tuesday morning when she went to the enclosure that holds two of her three Siberian huskies. The bat's body was covered with bite marks from the dogs.

Giese sent the bat to the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, which confirmed the animal was infected. She also took her dogs, who had already been vaccinated, to a veterinarian for rabies booster shots. The dogs will be quarantined for 60 days at her home as required by state law.

"How many people in the entire world can honestly say that a rabid bat has affected their lives twice in nine years?" Giese asked.

Giese, who became interested in sled dog racing after seeing a demonstration in eighth grade, said the quarantine will put a dent in her training schedule. She had hoped to take the dogs on trails at a mushing center near Malone in a few weeks.

While only two of Giese's three dogs were in the pen with the bat, she took no chances and had all of them treated.

"I'm just glad that they didn't eat the bat, otherwise I might not have known that they had been exposed," Giese said.

She often speaks to school children about rabies and emphasizes the need for even vaccinating indoor pets.

"People don't realize that small animals like bats, chipmunks or squirrels can get into your house and that your cat can escape outside and you have no idea where it's been," she said. "And if your animals are outside, you need to supervise them."

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