1885 meets 2030: 145 years and one cult classic movie later, rabies still the unifier

“He had been struck by something, possibly destiny, or fate, or only a degenerative nerve disease called rabies…”  -Stephen King, Cujo, 1981

King, Stephen. Cujo. Portland, Maine, Viking Press, September 8, 1981.

For many of us horror movie aficionados, when we think of rabid animals, one dog comes to mind; Cujo. For those less versed in 1980 horror films, Cujo (1983) was a character created by the mind of Stephen King; a young canine wreaking havoc on a small town after being bitten by a bat. Cujo morphs from man’s best friend to their worst nightmare tormenting his family with his erratic and aggressive behavior. For those who have seen this film, it is one of our great fears that our beloved canines may be exposed to rabies and suffer the same fate as Cujo. But outside of Hollywood and away from the cameras, rabies looks very different than that portrayed by the 1983 cult classic. 

Rabies can be broken down into two separate clinical forms; furious rabies and paralytic rabies. According to the World Health organization, “furious rabies results in signs of hyperactivity, excitable behavior, hydrophobia (fear of water) and sometimes aerophobia (fear of drafts or of fresh air).” whereas paralytic rabies results in just that, paralysis of the body typically stemming from the bite wound. Furious rabies is most commonly found in animals whereas paralytic rabies is most commonly found in humans1
Thankfully, rabies in our beloved companions, including both dogs and cats, is nearly entirely preventable with up to date vaccines. The rabies vaccination was developed by Louis Pasteur in 1885 and each year we celebrate World Rabies Day on September 28th to honor Pasteur’s contribution to the world and advocate for the vaccination of animals worldwide. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the goal to eliminate canine mediated rabies, transmission of rabies from dog to human, by 20301. Through Fear-Free and low stress practices here at Family Pet Hospital, it is our hope that we can extend vaccination services to the pets that may be perceived as too anxious or fearful to receive annual preventative care.  With our individualized approach to medicine, we hope we can honor Pasteur and help the World Health Organization achieve their goal by 2030, all while ensuring as few pets as possible meet the same fate as Stephen King’s poor Cujo.

Sources:

  1. World Health Organization. “Rabies.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 21 Apr. 2020, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/rabies.

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