It seems like every day another celebrity is getting the Swine Flu. Most recently was CNN doctor Sanjay Gupta
, who suffered a few unpleasant days of nausea, headaches, fever and body pain. Remember back when they used to just call that the flu, and nobody cared if you got it? So let's forget about swine, and talk about rabies, an animal-associated virus that is so badass it will never need re-branding.
Like the flu, rabies causes headaches and fevers. Then the disease, which is usually transmitted through an animal bite, hits you with acute pain, uncontrollable mania and the inability to swallow. Then you suffer about the most horrible death imaginable.
If you get the vaccine within 48 hours of the bite from the frothing critter, you should be alright. But if you start exhibiting symptoms, things can get bad, real bad, like you're gonna die (which is traditionally bad). Luckily, the vaccine is no longer 20 shots to the gut, only six regular ones. Makes you want to go out and just get it just for the fun of it.
Since today happens to be World Rabies Day
, here are some other fun facts about this most terrible of afflictions.
The vaccine was discovered by a Gallic legend.
In 1885 the vaccine for rabies was discovered by Louis Pasteur, whom ou may remember Pasteur for other revolutionary scientific breakthroughs (Pasteurization). It's quite an amazing résumé the microbiologist had, making him the greatest Frenchman who ever lived -- and not just because the second best is probably a mime.
Rabies has made you cry righteous tears.
Of the two water-works-inducing classics of your childhood, "Old Yeller"
the one about the loyal dog getting rabies was much, much more worthy of your tears. That was some devastating, youth-scarring stuff -- not some goofy, manipulative cartoon. Hopefully, when you got a little older, you read Stephen King's "Cujo"
and realized just how much that lovable yellow time bomb needed to die, and fast.
It kills 55,000 a year globally, but is extremely rare in the Western world.
In the Untied States, an average of two humans will contract rabies a year. So if your mother spent a lot of time harping on rabies when you were young, it wasn't so much that she worried you'd catch the deadly disease, but that she was trying to gently encourage you to stop spending so much time with raccoons and finally make human friends.
People who get rabies don't go vampire.
Somewhat surprisingly, we could find no evidence that the spastic delirium brought on by this horrible plague has caused a person to start biting others with his suddenly deadly teeth/saliva combination. (This may be because rabid patients are often tied down.) However, in the low-budget horror flick "I Drink Your Blood"
a band of hippies are tricked into eating rabies-infected meat pies. They proceed to turn the table on the townsfolk by wreaking delirious havoc that would seem by the film's title to include vampirism.
The only person who has ever really survived rabies may simply be immortal.
There is only one fully-documented case of a person surviving rabies without severe brain damage. In 2005, a teenage girl from Wisconsin was induced into a coma right after the onset of symptoms
in hopes that partially shutting off her brain (and feeding her medication) would give her immune system time to produce antibodies to fight the virus. After six days under, and many more in the hospital, Jeanna Giese emerged with only slight brain damage, and now lives a normal life. Subsequent attempts to replicate this procedure have failed.
Famous people who died from rabies.
To cap this off, we wanted to point out a famous person who had died of rabies. A foaming-mouthed Sunjay Gupta, if you will. Since we weren't having any luck finding this tragic soul on our own, we checked WikiAnswers, the collective brain of the Internet. This is what we discovered:
Upon further review, this information is 100 percent false. In fact, some of these people aren't even dead. We wish you a Happy World Rabies Day, nonetheless.
From the Web:
Dog Rides Bicycle!
Piranha Plant Sculpture.