‘Grave concerns’ raised after child treated with rabid dog saliva

'Grave concerns' raised after child treated with rabid dog saliva

WATCH: Health officials in B.C. are sounding the alarm after a four-year-old boy with behavioural issues was treated with rabid dog saliva by a naturopath in Victoria. Tess van Straaten reports.

B.C.’s health minister is weighing in on a bizarre case involving a little boy who was treated with rabid dog saliva by a naturopathic doctor in Victoria.

The strange story came to light following a blog post by Dr. Anke Zimmerman. In the February blog post, Dr. Anke Zimmermann chronicles her treatment of a four-year-old boy with sleep and behavioural issues, including aggression and violence.

“The chief concern was excessive aggression, in school especially, and hiding under tables and growling,” Zimmermann explains. “He said it was like a tornado in him and he was also afraid of wolves and werewolves.”

Zimmermann says she suspected it was caused by a dog bite when the boy was two and she treated him with Lyssin, which is derived from the saliva of a dog with rabies.

“We essentially want a remedy that would create a similar state to what the patient always has,” she says.

Zimmerman says the child improved dramatically, and came back into “a more human state from a slightly rabid dog state.”

“I completely understand why people think it sounds crazy because it sounds crazy to me too!” Zimmermann acknowledges. “But we can’t deny that it works and 600 million people all over the world are using homeopathy.”

Lyssin, which is also known as hydro-phobinum, is one of more than 8,500 homeopathic products approved by Health Canada. But Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer is now questioning that approval.

“There is no evidence I’m aware of that shows Lyssin has any therapeutic benefit,” Dr. Henry says. “More importantly, I’m concerned that if a product did actually contain what is suggested ? saliva from a rabid dog ? that would put the patient at risk of contracting rabies, a serious, fatal illness.”

B.C.’s health minister is also now weighing in on the issue.

“I know that’s a real concern in general,” Adrian Dix says. “What people have to understand with respect to both the federal approval both of prescription drugs and of this sort of product as well, is the federal government has responsibility but often people over-state the value of that federal approval.”

Lyssin has been on the federal list since 2008. Dr. Henry is now writing to Health Canada to question that approval.

Zimmermann says she’s now getting hate mail as a result of the controversial treatment.

“All of a sudden I am a child abuser, an animal abuser, a witch doctor and I have rabid dogs chained in my backyard and I should be in jail,” says Zimmermann.

Zimmermann says there’s no live rabies virus in the treatment so it couldn’t give the boy rabies. She acknowledges the treatment has generated a lot of controversy but she says she stands behind it and says the response from B.C. health officials shows a lack of understanding of homeopathic medicine.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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