Human Health Risk
Knowledge of “Mad Dogs” has
for centuries in human cultures. The word is derived from an
ancient Sanskrit word meaning "to do violence" The ancient
mesopotamian city-state of Eshnunna included a section in its laws (~
2500 years ago) dealing with rabid dogs.
Myths of rabies have also been around for centuries, and it is widely believed that parts of the myths about vampires and werewolves may arise from outbreaks of rabies both in people as well as dogs, wolves, and bats. Many of the supposed characteristics of vampires can be related to the affects of rabies on the limbic system - lesions here cause an increase in aggression and violence, increased libido, hyperesthesia (hence aversion to light and rapid movements of shiny crosses, etc.), disruption in normal sleeping patterns (becoming nocturnal), loss of normal appetite and paralysis of facial muscles (inability to eat). The animal associations are of course the common carriers of rabies.
|Rabies is caused by a lyssa
virus in the Rhabdoviridae family or negative stranded RNA
viruses. It is related to several other bat lyssa viruses which
are limited to bats. The virion is an enveloped cylinder with
helical symmetry, approximately 75 x 180 nm.
|Rabies viruses are generally
named based on their normal host in region, and by the species they are
affecting. In any region where rabies is endemic there is usually
only one primary host, though it may infect a variety of other
species. Thus if a dog is infected with a strain of rabies that
came from a skunk it would be called "skunk rabies in a dog". The
source of the rabies can be determined by using monoclonal antibody