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This article is from the In-Depth Report A Field Guide to Bats
60-Second Science

World Rabies Day Aims At Rabies Awareness

Saturday, September 8th, is World Rabies Day, to raise people's awareness about the disease--rabies still kills 55,000 people every year. Steve Mirsky reports. For more info, go to www.worldrabiesday.org

The hair of the dog.  It’s a shot of alcohol drunk to stop the headache from all the alcohol drunk last night.  But the phrase hair of the dog was originally related to a far more frightening scenario.  Before Louis Pasteur came up with his rabies inoculation, people bitten by rabid dogs would try to kill the animal and then literally apply the hair of the dog to the wound.  Other attempts to treat rabies included eating the hair, or heart or liver.  Fortunately, Pasteur’s cure now exists, but 55,000 people still die of rabies every year.  Saturday, September 8th has been designated as World Rabies Day, in an attempt to raise awareness about the disease.

Most of the deaths occur in Africa and Asia, and almost half the victims are kids under the age of 15.  Most human cases are still from dog bites, with the dogs having picked up rabies from wild animals, such as bats, skunks or raccoons.  The good news is that painful abdominal shots have been replaced by shots in the arm.  For more info, go to worldrabiesday.org.

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