A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus


Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy

5 Stars!

This book should be required reading for anyone in veterinary medicine. 

It is certainly more exciting than any textbook we were required to read.

It was so well written, it read like a novel. I suspect if the authors had a less exciting subject than the world's most diabolical virus, they could still create an amazing book.

Bill Wasik is a writer and editor, and his wife Monica Murphy is a veterinarian with a masters degree in public health - the perfect team to write about rabies.

I was alternating between reading this book and an article in JAVMA on rabies and kept sharing fun facts with my tech friend and made her cry. Sorry Friend. Truly I blame Disney and the author of Old Yeller, not the authors of this book or the JAVMA article. When the conversation turned to Old Yeller, that is when we both teared up. Dammit Walt.

My first introduction to rabies was the novel Old Yeller. I hated it so much. So I watched the movie. I hated it even more than the book. Hating a fictional story is, of course, not healthy, so over the years I have transferred my hatred of the story of Old Yeller to hatred of the actual disease of rabies. It is heartbreaking, terrifying and absolutely fascinating.

My first introduction to rabies in Real Life was in vet school. My friend and I heard there was a rabid steer in the barn. We raced down to see him, then felt like complete jerks as we screeched to a halt in front of his stall. He was standing in the corner with his head hung low, drooling profusely and looking absolutely miserable. Mercifully, he was euthanized later that day. Rabies was confirmed.

Thank goodness I have not had to deal with rabies since seeing that poor steer. Except that I do. Every day. I answer questions about the vaccine and the vaccination schedule. I vaccinate every healthy pet who comes through the door. I can help you legally get into any country in the world with your pet if it is possible to do so. The biggest hoops always pertain to rabies. As the yearly deadline to have pets vaccinated draws near, I answer questions about which pets in which locations legally needs the vaccine, all the while trying not to forget how very crucial rabies prevention is to all of the mammals of our city and even world.

But of course we forget. After reading this book, I doubt I will forget. I doubt you will either.

Read Rabid if you like sick, twisted tales. Read it if you are fascinated by disease. Read it if you deal with rabies prevention so often it has become routine. I promise it will make the very next vaccine you give - or that your pet gets - and every one thereafter much more meaningful, intriguing and satisfying.

Let me know if you would like to borrow the book. I found it at Barnes and Noble, and I am sure it is also available in other fine bookstores and on the web.