Rabies was first described over 4000 years ago. A reference from the pre-Mosaic Eshnunna Code
of Babylon stated that “if a dog is mad and the authorities have brought the fact to the knowledge
of its owner; if he does not keep it in and it bites a man and causes his death, then the owner shall
pay 40 shekels of silver. If it bites a slave and causes his death, he shall pay 15 shekels of silver.
Shortly after the discovery of Americas, Bishop Petrus Martyr-Anglerius recorded this summary of
a bizarre incident. Bats came in from the marshes on the river and attack our men with deadly
bites. This may have been one of the first descriptions of transmission of rabies by vampire bats.
The first incidence of rabies in North America was the Virginia foxes in 1753. Spread to northward
to New England in the 1780s throughout the 19th century.
Spasm when exposed to water (hydrophobia)
Coma that leads to death
4. Taking personal precautions to avoid close contact with animals is the best means of
preventing exposure to the rabies virus. As well, rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease.
avoiding direct contact with unfamiliar wild or domestic animals, especially dogs in developing
not handling, feeding, or unintentionally attracting wild animals with open garbage cans or
instructing children to avoid unfamiliar wild or domestic animals, even if they appear friendly;
preventing bats from entering living quarters.
If exposed to a potentially rabid animal:
wash the area or wound thoroughly with soap and water, and
seek medical attention immediately.
Domestic pets may be a risk for rabies exposure. If travelling with a pet:
keep pets' rabies vaccinations up-to-date;
keep pets under tight control to avoid contact with wild and/or other animals.
In 1885, Louis Pasteur created the first rabies vaccine by using
desiccated spinal cords from rabies-infected rabbits. He first tested
the vaccine on a nine year old boy, who had been bitten multiple
times by a rabid dog. The child received a total of 13 inoculations
Pre-exposure vaccination includes three doses given over 1 month.
If an individual is subsequently exposed to rabies, two further doses
will be needed.
For pet owners rabies vaccinations should be up-to-date.
6. Other resources
Rabies Outbreak in Angola, Caused by
Girl Is First to Survive Rabies Without a Shot
Roaming Dogs, Kills 93 Children
Wisconsin teenager is the first human ever to
survive rabies without vaccination, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention said yesterday, after she received a A severe rabies outbreak in Luanda, the capital of
desperate and novel type of therapy. Angola, has killed at least 93 children in three months,
Last month, doctors at the Children's Hospital of according to the United Nations. Because of a shortage of
Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee, put the
vaccines, doctors were unable to save any of the children taken
critically ill girl into a drug-induced coma and gave her antiviral
to the city’s main pediatric hospital, the hospital’s chief, Dr. Luis
drugs, although it is not clear which, if any, of the four
medicines contributed to her surprising recovery. Bernardino, told the United Nations’ Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In any case, many of the
For more info children were brought in too late to save, he added.
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/25/national/25rabies.html?_r Rabies deaths in Luanda, where more than four million
people are jammed into vast slums, may actually be much
higher; the count was based on one hospital.
For more info
Title: Rabies Author: Thomas E. Kienzle, Ph.D.