Rabies History

Cultural impact

Because of its potentially violent nature, rabies has been known since 3500 B.C. The first written record of rabies is in the Codex of Eshnunna (ca. 1930 BC), which dictates that the owner of a dog showing symptoms of rabies should take preventive measure against bites. If a person was bitten by a rabid dog and later died, the owner was fined heavily.

Rabies was considered a scourge for its prevalence in the 19th century. Fear of rabies related to methods of transmissions was almost irrational;

Cultural references

  • ''Cujo'', a Stephen King novel and film about a mother and son being terrorized by a rabid dog.
  • ''I Drink Your Blood'', a 1970s cult horror film about a gang of Satanic hippies who get infected with rabies.
  • ''Old Yeller'', a novel and film that involves a frontier dog becoming infected by a rabid wild wolf.
  • ''The Mad Death'', a 1983 BBC TV series in which Britain is gripped by an outbreak of rabies after an afflicted pet cat is illegally smuggled into the country.
  • ''Rant'', a novel by Chuck Palahniuk in which the main character infects those around him with rabies.
  • ''Rabies'', a novel by Borislav Pekic about a genetically engineered Rabies virus with a double protein envelope, thus becoming extremely easy to transmit (biting is not neccessary any more), which spreads from one victim to another extremely fast. The virus gets turned loose at the London's Heathrow Airport.
  • ''Quarantine_'', a Hollywood horror movie about mutated variation of rabies.

In the Season 1 episode of House M.D. entitled "Histories", Dr. House works to diagnose a homeless woman's illness, and it turns out that the woman is infected with rabies, from an untreated bat bite.

Further Reading


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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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