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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


SCHNEIDER, Maria Cristina  and  SANTOS-BURGOA, Carlos. A historical review of the treatment of human rabies. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 1994, vol.28, n.6, pp.454-463. ISSN 1518-8787.

A historical review of the treatment of human rabies from ancient times up to the present is undertaken. An attempt is made to trace parallel between the concept of the main cause of rabies in a certain period and the kind of treatment utilized. The ancient Greek goddess Artemis was considered to be a healer of rabies; they already identified wound cauterization. People of the first century A.D. knew of the infection deriving from the saliva of a rabid dog and called it virus (in Latin). During medieval times when a magical and religious concept regarding health was prevalent, the principal protector was called St. Humbert. During the Renaissance many experiments were carried out and new information on the disease was obtained, both were basic in opening the way for new findings in the future. At that time the miasmatic and contagious theories were predominant. Pasteur strongly objected to the idea of the spontaneity of rabies. At the end of the XIXth. century and based on microbial discoveries, Pasteur brought about a great scientific revolution as regards the possibility of treating rabies by using a vaccine. At the present time, vaccines are of the nervous type or not, and the recommended dose varies. A large-number of studies on vaccination have been undertaken. In Latin America the most used are those by Fuenzalida and Palacios. At present, WHO recommends the vaccine made by cell culture.

Keywords : Rabies [prevention & control]; Rabies vaccine.

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