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Louis Pasteur and Rabies: a brief note
  1. JMS Pearce
  1. 304 Beverley Road, Anlaby, Hull HU10 7BG, UK;

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    The almost universal fatality in victims of untreated human rabies surrounds the disease with understandable terror. The word comes from the Latin rabere to rage or rave. It was known as canine madness, or hydrophobia that produces paralysis or a vicious excitability and in man fatal encephalitis with throat spasms on swallowing.

    A variety of meningoencephalitis rabies presents as a “hydrophobic” or “spastic” form and a “tranquil” or “paralytic” (rabies without hydrophobia) form, the latter with an ascending paralysis of Landry type, terminating in bulbar, respiratory, and encephalitic symptoms. The history of dog bite is often unclear if it has occurred some months earlier. Symptoms usually develop, however, 10 to 50 days after exposure; death ensues within about 10 days. In Great Britain rigid quarantine laws on the importation of all livestock led to its virtual eradication.

    In 1804, Georg Gottfried Zinke first transmitted rabies1 from a rabid dog to a normal one, and from dog to a rabbit and a hen, by injection of saliva. This proved that the disease was infectious. By 1826, Franz Christian Karl Krugelstein (1779–1864) wrote a full account of rabies, with a …

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