29 September 2012

Wired Science: “Undead: The Rabies Virus Remains a Medical Mystery”

No one survives rabies: Such was the final verdict of medicine, not merely in Rodney Willoughby’s board exam but in medical texts dating back to at least the first century AD. “It is not only an acute disease but one that is unremitting,” wrote Soranus of Ephesus, one famed physician in the Greek tradition. Suśruta, a fabled surgeon of ancient India, gestured at 100 percent fatality in his own account of hydrophobia: “If the patient in such a case becomes exceedingly frightened at the sight or mention of the very name of water, he should be understood to have been afflicted with Jala-trása”—literally water-scare—”and be deemed to have been doomed.” Monica Murphy & Bill Wasik

Long and catching story about a fatal disease that plagued humanity from the dawn of time. It really highlights how fortunate we are to live in a age when it can be easily cured and the paradox that modern medicine still knows very little about how rabies acts and why it causes death in the overwhelming majority of untreated cases.

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