Evidence Of The Importance Of Vaccines: Wasik And Murphy's Rabid
    By Kim Wombles | September 3rd 2012 08:48 AM | 8 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Kim

    Instructor of English and psychology and mother to three on the autism spectrum.

    Writer of the site (where most of these


    View Kim's Profile
    According to WHO, "Although it is a vaccine-preventable disease, rabies still poses a significant public health problem in many countries in Asia and Africa where 95% of human deaths occur even though safe, effective vaccines for both human and veterinary use exist." 

    Here in the United States, rabies is something to be thought of mostly in terms of the routine vaccines that our pets get or in remembering the Walt Disney film Old Yeller. For most of us, it isn't a disease we've ever had personal exposure to, and yet it still has the ability to terrify, especially since it essentially remains a universally fatal disease once it's reached the brain. People are still dying from rabies, as a recent story from South Africa shows. And it's not just South Africa--an American soldier was bitten in Afghanistan eight months ago and died this August from rabies acquired from the bite. According to the news article, he was the "first active-duty American soldier to die from a rabies bite in more than 40 years." Rabies remains a terrifying disease to be on guard against.

    Dog and bat bites are the most typical way that rabies is transmitted to humans (WHO), but other animals can and do carry rabies. Wasik and Murphy in their incredibly comprehensive Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus report on how raccoons were responsible for transmitting rabies in New York City in recent years.

    Wasik and Murphy explore the history of rabies and how over the centuries the disease has helped to create lasting literary works and the myths of vampires, werewolfs, and even zombies. Nested around the analysis of great literature and pulp fiction are stories of outbreaks of rabies, the attempts to eradicate the disease and the life-saving work of the great Louis Pasteur and his Pasteur Institutes. The cultural history ends on the cautionary note of what happened in Bali when rabies, previously absent on the island, got a foothold. Wholesale slaughter of dogs occurred, while concerned individuals fought hard to curb the government's reactionary choice to kill instead of vaccinate. The ease with which people can become complacent only to react in a knee-jerk fashion after the fact is clear in the tales of Bali and the rabies outbreak and in Egypt with slaughter of pigs when swine flu was making its way around the globe--Wasik and Murphy do an excellent job of making these stories visceral for their readers.

    Rabid isn't for the faint of heart or for the easily distracted, but it's an important work to read, especially if one is interested in seeing just how important routine vaccination is.

    * for SV who loves plugs for other people's books*


    I’m still cogitating over the article itself, but I just read this:

    Malaysia researchers claim link between cat parasite and female suicide

    which concludes
    But both studies called for further research and not to get rid of cats simply because they fear the parasite.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Gerhard Adam
    You might want to check out this paper.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I’ve had a quick look through that paper.  They’ve really gone into it in depth, even such subtleties as
    One copy of the gene is constitutively expressed across the parasite life cycle and one copy is expressed at high levels during the brain and muscle cyst forming stages.
    However, rodents fearless before the cat does bring to mind this Fable For Our Time, by James Thurber:

    The Foolhardy Mouse and the Cautious Cat

    SUCH sport there had been that day, in the kitchen and the pantry, for the cat was away and the mice were playing all manner of games:

    mousy-wants-a-corner, hide-and-squeak, one-old-cat, mouse-in-boots, and so on. Then the cat came home.

    ‘Cat’s back!’ whispered Father Mouse.

    ‘Into the wainscoting, all of you,’ said Mother Mouse, and all of the mice except one hastily hid in the woodwork.

    The exception was an eccentric mouse named Mervyn, who had once boldly nipped a bulldog in the ear and got away with it. Mervyn did not know at the time, and never found out, that the bulldog was a stuffed bull­dog, and so he lived in a fool’s paradise.

    The day the cat, whose name was Pouncetta, came back from wherever she had been, she was astonished to encounter Mervyn in the butler’s pantry, nonchalantly nibbling crumbs. She crept towards him in her stockinged feet and was astounded when he turned, spit a crumb in her eye, and began insulting her with a series of insults.

    ‘How did you get out of the bag?’ Mervyn inquired calmly. ‘Put on your pyjamas and take a cat nap.’ He went back to his nibbling, as blasé as you please.

    ‘Steady, Pouncetta,’ said Pouncetta to her­self. ‘There is more here than meets the eye. This mouse is probably a martyr mouse. He has swallowed poison in the hope that I will eat him and die, so that he can be a hero to a hundred generations of his descendants.’

    Mervyn looked over his shoulder at the startled and suspicious cat and began to mock her in a mousetto voice. ‘Doodness dwacious,’ said Mervyn, ‘it’s a posse cat, in full pursuit of little me.’ He gestured impudently with one foot. ‘I went that-a-way,’ he told Pouncetta. Then he did some other imitations, including a pretty good one of W. C. Fieldmouse.

    ‘Easy, girl,’ said Pouncetta to herself. ‘This is a mechanical mouse, a trick mouse with a built-in voice. If I jump on it, it will explode and blow me into a hundred pieces. Damned clever, these mice, but not clever enough for me.’

    ‘You’d make wonderful violin strings, if you had any guts,’ Mervyn said insolently. But Pouncetta did not pounce, in spite of the insult unforgivable. Instead, she turned and stalked out of the butler’s pantry and into the sitting-room and lay down on her pillow near the fireplace and went to sleep.

    When Mervyn got back to his home in the woodwork, his father and mother and brothers and sisters and cousins and uncles and aunts were surprised to see him alive and well. There was great jollity, and the finest cheese was served at a family banquet. ‘She never laid a paw on me,’ Mervyn boasted. ‘I haven’t got a scratch. I could take on all the cats in the Cats­kills.’ He finished his cheese and went to bed and fell asleep, and dreamed of taking a cata­mount in one minute and twenty-eight seconds of the first round.

    MORAL:    Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and the angels are all in Heaven, but few of the fools are dead.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Wow Gerhard, that is the most amazing information I have read for a long time. The paper that you linked to says that :-
    individuals with latent toxoplasmosis have been reported to be at a 2.65 times increased risk to be involved in car accidents than the general population (Flegr et al. 2002), a result subsequently replicated by two turkish groups (Yereli et al. 2006, Kocazeybek et al. 2009)....recent research has also reported that suicide attempters had significantly higher IgG antibody levels to T. gondii as compared with patients without a suicide attempt (arling et al. 2009). likewise, and of perhaps particular relevance to any consideration of the mechanisms of action involved, is a potential relationship linking T. gondii with that of schizophrenia (torrey and Yolken 2003). 
    Whilst any association between toxoplasmosis and the development of schizophrenia is likely to occur only in a small proportion of infected individuals, and is applicable to only some cases of schizophrenia, there is a gathering body of convincing evidence that link the two. For instance, both schizophrenia (cichon et al. 2009) and toxoplasmosis (Johnson et al. 2002) have been demonstrated to have strong familial associations, affecting multiple members of the same family. 
    Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence has also been consistently associated with schizophrenia (torrey et al. 2000, 2007, torrey and Yolken 2003, Mortensen et al. 2007, Yolken and torrey 2008). From over 54 studies published to date which examine this potential association, obtained across a range of countries and epidemiological conditions, all except five reports that individuals with schizophrenia and other psychoses had a higher prevalence of antibodies to T. gondii  than the controls (stanley Medical  research institute website 2010, torrey et al. 2007). indeed, there remains a stronger association between schizophrenia and detection of  T. gondii antibodies (combined odds ratio 2.73) than for any human gene in a genome-wide linkage analysis study (OR ≤ 1.40) (Purcell et al. 2009).
    Isn't that stunning information? These studies shows a stronger link between human toxoplasmosis exposure, a disease that is often carried by cats, and schizophrenia than between schizophrenia and any human gene!
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at
    So cats put the crazy in cat ladies.  Science knew that.
    Gerhard Adam
    Actually it gets even more interesting when you begin to see the influence of the microbiome on brain development.
    Mundus vult decipi
    According to the Jakarta Post, January 23, 2012, Bali Rabies Cases Fall, Alert Status Dropped:
    Authorities have attributed the drop in the number of rabies cases to a program of mass vaccinations of domestic dogs.
    However, there will certainly remain the problem of stray dogs.  Even so, it is good that man’s best friend is being protected.  But given such a dire emergency, in what way is it “reactionary” to kill instead of vaccinate?  And is “reactionary” always bad? 

    Turning to the biology, rabies does seem to be the most ‘devilish’ of parasites which modify their host’s behaviour.  They occur throughout the different kingdoms of life, for example among fungi.  According to Wikipedia:
    Some Cordyceps species are able to affect the behaviour of their insect host: Ophiocordyceps unilateralis causes ants to climb a plant and attach there before they die. This ensures the parasite’s environment is at an optimal temperature and humidity, and that maximal distribution of the spores from the fruiting body that sprouts out of the dead insect is achieved.
    It is not difficult to imagine how the dog and cat parasites arose, but some of these interactions are so intricate, one wonders how far back their history goes.  Although the term “evil-ution” appears to be a coinage by Henry M. Morris (1918–2006), sometimes referred to as “the father of the creation science movement”, one sometimes feels that the phenomenon itself deserves the pejorative epithet.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Good question--Wasik and Murphy make a strong case that both in Egypt with the slaughter of all the pigs when swine flu was a risk (but not an outbreak there) and the slaughter of all dogs and cats in Bali that government officials were being knee-jerk in their reactions rather than considering the big picture, and certainly the humane picture. Perhaps it's like throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.