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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