Author: Sherry Helms
World Rabies Day is a United Nations Observance aiming to raise awareness about the impact of rabies on humans and animals as well as to provide information and advice on how to prevent the disease. The day is proclaimed to take place each year on September 28, the death anniversary of Louis Pasteur who, with the collaboration of his colleagues, first developed an efficacious rabies vaccine in 1885.
Endorsed by international human and veterinary health organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Veterinary Association, the World Rabies Day is an international campaign coordinated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, a non-profit organization with headquarters in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in warm-blooded animals. The most common domestic animals that become infected, or “rabid,” are cats, dogs, and cattle In the United States, the virus lives primarily in wild bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.
The rabies virus travels to the brain by following the peripheral nerves. The incubation period of the disease is usually a few months in humans, depending on the distance the virus must travel to reach the central nervous system. Once the rabies virus reaches the central nervous system and symptoms begin to show, the infection is effectively untreatable and usually fatal within days.
Commonly, people are rendered with the myth that rabies is an animal disease, not a human disease. But, the fact is that throughout the world one person dies of rabies every 10 minutes. Annually, this fatal disease causes about 55,000 human deaths worldwide, with majority of cases in Africa and Asia. Roughly 97% cases of human exposure to rabies are the result of rabid dog bites.
Diseases have a history, and understanding that history helps us understand how best to treat and control a disease today. The Biography of Diseases series of books provides students with all the information regarding the origin of various maladies, how they impact contemporary society, and how doctors and diseases researchers from around the world are fighting to devise treatments for their alleviation or cure. One of the volumes of this series, Rabies, examines a disease that has been causing fear and panic for centuries because of its fatal nature and the near certainty of death once one has contracted the disease. And, the book sheds light on why thousands still die of rabies every year in developing countries, despite an efficacious vaccine has been discovered by Louis Pasteur in the 19th centuries.
There is also available in the market another book of the same title, Rabies (Diseases and People) that reviews the history of the disease, and then describe its treatment and prevention. The authors of this book pay particular attention to its recent spread in the U.S. while discussing the current related issues worldwide. With black-and-white photographs of some animals (mostly raccoons) and magnified cells, this book draws heavily on recent periodical articles, and a list of organizations for further information is appended with it.
If someone is curious about what’s new factor in the current scenario of this deadly disease, the book Mad Dogs: The New Rabies Plague would be the best pick among all. This account of the latest rabies epidemic in the United States and the battle to halt its spread reads like a fast-paced thriller. Donald Finley, a newspaper medical reporter, describes the canine rabies outbreak that began in Texas in 1988 and the epidemic of raccoon rabies that swept the East Coast from Florida to New York. He also tells the story of the struggle to develop an effective rabies vaccination program in the United States. He further states that such a program has been developed successfully in European nations, but in our country the process has been hampered by politics and side issues.
Fiction lovers need not to be upset here. Acclaimed writer Robert Laxalt’s brilliant new novella, Time of the Rabies is there for them. With an interesting and thrilling story, this novella will let readers to gauge how terrible the epidemic of rabies could be. During the 1920s, a rabies epidemic swept across northern Nevada, decimating wildlife and livestock herds. This historic event is the background of this novel. Set on a sheep ranch in the desert foothills near Carson City, the story follows owner Pete Lorda and his family and ranch hands as the epidemic swirls around them, pulling humans and animals into an epic battle against an invisible but deadly foe.
In an attempt to lend our hand to the UN’s awareness campaign for Rabies, we’ve mentioned above some books that are full of necessary information. Hope, these titles will meet their purpose of informing and bewaring people, and so we reach our goal of dwelling in a rabies-free society.