6-Year-Old Got a Scratch, Died Weeks Later

Ryker Roque contracted rabies after sticking hand in bucket with infected bat
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2018 8:58 AM CST
This Feb. 8, 2017 photo shows a northern long-eared bat at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.   (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

(Newser) – Ryker Roque told his friends his father could "fix anything." Rabies was one thing that proved beyond him. Six-year-old Ryker died at a Florida hospital Sunday, weeks after putting his hand in a bucket holding a bat his father had found, reports NBC News. Henry Roque says he specifically told his son not to touch the bat, but Ryker didn't listen, and ended up with a scratch. With his son in tears at the thought of getting a vaccine shot in case the bat had rabies, Roque avoided the hospital and thoroughly washed the scratch instead. It wasn't enough. A week later, Ryker told his parents he had a headache and his fingers were numb. "I picked him up and I put him on the ground and he fell right to the floor," Roque tells Today. "I could not believe this … I said 'Walk for me, Ryker,' and he couldn't walk."

At a hospital, doctors told Roque that Ryker indeed had rabies and that cases are almost always fatal once symptoms appear. Doctors hoped placing the boy in a medically induced coma might allow his body to fight off the virus in an experimental treatment known as the Milwaukee protocol, which has saved two other children in the US, per NBC Miami. But that wasn't enough, either. Experts are now warning people to seek out a life-saving vaccine immediately after exposure to rabies and to limit possible exposure. In this case, the infected bat may have been in the Roque family's home for "a week or two prior to the boy going to the hospital," a Lake County sheriff tells the Orlando Sentinel. He adds a dog and cat were taken from the home to be tested for rabies, with the results not yet clear. (Rabies killed a woman shortly after she gave birth.)

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