First written about in Mesopotamia in 1930 B.C. rabies has been around for 4,000 years. Whilst the first medical record of rabies in a human was registered in Boston in 1768 (Baer, 1991), there are many other forms of records. Early medieval records depict lycanthropy as does ancient Greek literature, one of the most famous of woodcutting depicts a ’werewolf’ looking for all the world like a man gone mad.
In fact rabies is caused by lyssaviruses ‘lyssa derived from the word ‘lud’ or ‘violent’, ‘rabies’ from the Latin meaning ‘madness’.
Scratches or bites from an infected being spread the disease, causing acute inflammation of the brain leading to:-
- Violent movements
- Uncontrolled excitement
- Fear of water, also unquenchable thirst
- Inability to move parts of the body
- Loss of consciousness
Whilst the first stage of infection is characterised by behavioural changes, the second stage is known as “furious rabies”, where the infected have a tendency to be hyper-reactive to external stimuli and bite anything in their immediate vicinity, it is obviously at this stage when others are most likely to also become infected. The third and final stage is paralytic, signs being drooling, difficulty swallowing, facial paralysis, limb paralysis and eventually respiratory arrest. Once the infected have passed, they will look simply as they had prior to infection (remind you of any myths?).
The UK has been rabies free since 1922 after imposing compulsory quarantine for dogs entering the country and introduced ‘Pet Passports’ in 2001, a number of other countries are also rabies free.
Whilst the pet passport system was first hailed as an invitation to bring Rabies into the country, it has so far proved efficacious. The system required however still entails a wait. In order to qualify your pet (dog, cat or ferret), must be microchiped or tattood prior to being given a rabies vaccination, and for dogs a tapeworm treatment. Thirty days after the rabies vaccine your pet is required to have a blood test proving that the vaccine was successful, a copy of which you are required to keep to present to passport control, not until three months after this test can your pet travel. Unfortunately the required blood test does not always pass, and repeat vaccinations are often required, along with further waits prior to travel.
The first vaccine was developed by Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux in 1885 by taking nerve tissue from infected rabbits and allowing it to dry; another source of antibodies is consumption of infected birds after they have recovered (Gough & Jorgenson 1976, Jorgenson & Gough, 1976). Whilst rabies vaccine s are not currently 100% efficacious (Murray et al. 2009), and have a number of side effects:-
- Facial Swelling
- Circulatory Shock
- Loss of consciousness
- Delayed onset
- Cancer at site of injection
- Seizures or epilepsy
- Autoimmune disease
- Skin diseases
- Muscle weakness
- Chronic digestive disorders
- Behaviour issues (Jan Rasmusen)
A new protocol of rabies vaccine manufacture has been identified as efficacious in all cases, this involves using membrane-anchored flagellin or Escherichia coli in the vaccine (Qi et al. 2015), long term testing is still required. However current vaccines are detailed by the manufacturer as providing immunity from 1-4 years, but legal requirements are either annual or tri-annual vaccination in the United States. Results of a seven year research project by Prof. Ronald Schultz is expected to show at least 7 years of immunity from one vaccine, indicating yet more mandated over-vaccination.
In exactly the same way as Cancer, Rabies requires an acidic environment and sugar (CDC , 2009) in order to replicate. If the history of lycantrophy is simply due to a lyssa virus contracted from a wild animal, or wolf with rabies, then it would make sense that these wolves were less afraid of people due to feeding on their refuse, taking in simple carbohydrates that are not species appropriate to their systems, hence leading them to have an acidic and sugar filled environment in which the rabies virus can successfully proliferate.
This being the case raw fed dogs on a species appropriate diet, containing no simple carbohydrates or sugars would be significantly less likely to contract this horrific, terminal disease.
Baer, G.M. (1991) The Natural History of Rabies. 2nd Ed. CRC Press Inc. United States
CDC (2009) Rabies Post-Exposure Prophylaxis [Internet] Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/postexposure.html (Accessed 30/1/2010)
Gough, P.M. Jorgenson, R.D. (1976) Rabies antibodies in sera of wild birds. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 12:392-395
Jorgenson, R.D. & Gough, P.M. (1976) Experimental rabies in a great horned owl. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 12:444-447
Murray KO, Holmes KC, Hanlon CA. (2009) Rabies in vaccinated dogs and cats in the United States, 1997–2001. J Am Vet Med Assoc 235:691–5
Qi, Y. Kang, H. Zheng, X. Wang, H. Gao, Y. Yang, S. & Xia, X. (2015) Incorporation of membrane-anchored flagellin or Escherichia Coli heat-labile enterotoxin B subunit enhances the immunogenicity of rabies virus-like particles in mice and dogs. Frontiers in Microbiology. [Internet] Available from: http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fmicb.2015.00169/pdf (Accessed 18/02/2015)