Cat infected with rabies virus in Boston
Image: Boston Public Health Commission
On Monday, 12 December the Boston Animal Care and Control Division received a report of a sick cat in front of 132 Glenway Street in the Dorchester section of Boston. The cat (pictured above) was collected and examined by a vet team. Sadly, he was diagnosed as being infected with rabies which leaves almost no chance of survival for him. He is likely dead by now.
Humans who had come into contact with the cat may also face a severe threat. Thus if you had happened to be anywhere in the neighborhood of the location (map linked above) during the weeks prior to 12 December and may have interacted with a cat that looks like the one in the picture it is a very good idea for you to report that to a doctor and, if the doctor prescribes it, take preventative treatment because in the overwhelming majority of cases, like many other mammalian species, humans too do not survive an untreated rabies infection.
Rabies is a viral infection. The infection is typically transmitted by saliva or blood of infected animals. In some species, like vampire bats, the virus rarely causes symptoms, or the incubation period is rather long. That makes vampire bats an effective carrier and spreader of the disease. That was likely why it was vampire bats that Joseph Lennox Pawan discovered as a transmission vector for rabies. His 1932 discovery proved infectious nature of the disease. It was also initially ridiculed. I suspect he too may have been called a "science-denying conspiracy nut" and urged to "trust the science".
In humans, the incubation period may be as short as a week or as long as a year. So, once again, if you so much as suspect that you may have come in contact with this unfortunate Dorchester cat - please see a doctor. Same if you have been in direct contact with vampire bats or other likely rabies transmission vector. Yes, even if you feel perfectly fine. If you are infected, once you develop rabies symptoms, it may be too late. And this is your life, and you only have one.
The treatment for rabies is typically preventative. It is typically based on inoculation with a viral vector vaccine. There are also esoteric methods - for example, Jeanna Giese of Wisconsin was a rare survivor who was a symptomatic rabies case saved by being put into an induced coma in 2004. But these cases are at this point a rarity and typically the only treatment available is inoculation administered before the symptoms appear.
If you had followed yours truly over the last couple of years you can easily imagine that he has been called an "anti-vaxxer" and "science denier" from time to time over his criticism of the COVID vaccine development and deployment as well as laws and orders mandating them. But here he is, advocating a vaccine treatment.
So what gives? Well, it is a matter of the difference between rabies and COVID-19. Both are viral diseases. Yet rabies is almost 100% fatal whereas COVID-19 is a rather mild threat to almost the whole population with the exception of a minority of the population, mostly comprised of the old and those in a seriously compromised state of health.
Both vaccines - the ones for COVID and the one for rabies - some with their list of negative side effects. But the rabies ones almost always prevent the onset of rabies and almost certain death, whereas the efficacy of the COVID vaccines is very questionable. So yes, I appreciate the usefulness of a vaccine that in most cases prevents a near-certain death. And yes, I question the efficacy of one that comes with its risks, yet its usefulness is far from certain. Does that sound reasonable? You be the judge.
And, lastly but not leastly: I have engaged in discussions of vaccine efficacy for number of years. Through these discussions I have encountered hundreds if not thousands of people. And, while some viewed flu shots as unnecessary while approving of a tetanus shot whereas others viewed smallpox vaccination as wise while dissing the measles one, I can think of perhaps a couple of people, no more, that were opposed to any and all vaccines, under all circumstances. So a delusional "anti-vaxxer", much like a delusional "conspiracy theorist" is largely a human category that is very sparsely represented in the real world. Both, in this author's humble opinion, are propaganda and manipulation tools rather than actual practical classification terms.
Sick cat in Dorchester tests positive for rabies
Heather Alterisio, Boston.com, 16 December 2022
Medical Mystery: Only One Person Has Survived Rabies without Vaccine--But How?
Jordan Lite, Scientific American, 8 Ocober 2008
US COVID vaccines: their power fleeting, their usefulness limited
@borepstein , 7 November 2021
Rabies Vaccine (Intramuscular Route): Side Effects
Follow the link below to see related publications and support this publication