Charts the history, science, and cultural mythology of rabies, documenting how before its vaccine the disease caused fatal brain infections and sparked the creations of monsters, including werewolves, vampires and zombies.
a cultural history of the world's most diabolical virus
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Bill Wasik, a journalist, and Monica Murphy, a veterinarian with a background in public health, trace the history of rabies from ancient Mesopotamia to modern times. They provide an overview of the symptoms of its disease; discuss where it appears in the historical record; demonstrate how poorly the disease was understood until the French scientist Louis Pasteur introduced the germ theory of disease; consider how rabies may have influenced legends about vampires, werewolves, and zombies; discuss how Pasteur and scientists in his laboratory, notably Emile Roux, figured out how to create a vaccination for rabies; consider the threat posed by other zoonoses (diseases, like rabies, that are transmitted to humans by animals); discuss the extremely rare cases in which humans have survived rabies - a disease long thought to have a 100% mortality rate once it reaches the brain; examine a recent outbreak in Bali, focusing on what made it difficult to control; examine what a recent outbreak among racoons in New York and its presence in bats tells us about the difficulty of eradicating the disease.
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