Until 1885, anyone infected with rabies was not expected to survive. That year, two scientists, Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux, developed the first vaccine for rabies. They used it on Joseph Meister, a nine-year-old boy bitten by a rabid dog. Meister lived another 55 years, and was the first person known to survive rabies.
Rabies is spread through the bite of an infected animal. Bats are the most common carriers, although foxes, raccoons and other wild animals are also known to spread the disease.
The vaccine for dogs was not in widespread use until the 1920s, and today the vaccination for dogs is required. In countries where dogs are not vaccinated, they account for up to 90% of rabies cases in humans.
On this date in 1906, the Fargo-Moorhead area was on edge over reports of a rabid dog. The dog was reported to be running wildly through the streets, snapping at people and animals. Although no people were bitten, several dogs were. This raised concern that the disease would spread. At the first report of the rabid dog, Clay County Deputy Sheriff Crossman mounted his horse and chased the animal down. The dog ran across the First Street Bridge into Fargo where Crossman shot and killed it.
But that wasn’t the end of the concern. The rabid dog was wearing a collar, but there was no identification. No one knew who the owner was or where the dog came from. Fargo authorities announced they would fully cooperate with Moorhead to try and stop the spread of the disease. The bitten dogs had to be quarantined. If they showed signs of rabies, they would be euthanized. All dogs were required to be muzzled. Authorities stressed that pet owners had to be vigilant for another two or three weeks for any signs of rabies in their animals. They said regulations would not be relaxed until they were sure the threat had passed.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
World Health Organization. "http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/" http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/ Accessed 29 March, 2016.
News-Medical. "http://www.news-medical.net/health/Rabies-History.aspx" http://www.news-medical.net/health/Rabies-History.aspx Accessed 29 March, 2016.
Fargo Forum and Daily Republican.