Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus - Bill Wasik, Monica Murphy RABID: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST DIABOLICAL VIRUS


Rabies is apparently the most fatal virus known to science. It is a disease that is transmitted to humans from another species (such as dogs and bats), usually by a bite from an infected animal. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. For a human, rabies is almost 100% fatal if postexposure vaccines are not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms.

This book is literally a cultural history of rabies, spanning the last 4000 or so years of history, including anything from Homer's epics, cultural myths, zombies, vampires, werewolves, literature (both pulp fiction and the classics), movies, "causes and cures" as described by ancient philosophers and physicians, and some science. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the relationships between man and his dogs. The book contains a great deal of "cultural history", quite often of subjects only vaguely related to rabies, e.g. the 23+ pages that summarize various vampire and werewolf novelizations and the 3 pages describing the life of Saint Hubert. I got the impression that the authors couldn't find enough information to write about rabies, so had to look for vaguely related material to add.

While having a great deal of information on the cultural aspects of rabies, I felt the book was lacking in the science section. I would have preferred more science and less rambling about Saint Hubert, vampires and werewolves. That said, the last third of the book that concentrated on developing a rabies vaccine, the possible methods to help those infected with the disease and the measures implemented in Bali to fight the disease, was rather interesting.

NOTE: This book is not for the squeamish or overly sensitive readers. Rabies "control" methods are often not very pleasant or good for the dogs involved.