Page images

Symptoms of Rabies.



those colonies. This may be attributed to the length of the yoyage, which we may take to be, at the minimum, six weeks, and occasionally three or four months—affording time for the development of the malady in any dog carrying the seeds of it on board with him, and manifesting it there, when he would be destroyed.

Still, these colonies must be considered fortunate in escaping, when we reflect on the prolonged period of latency or incubation, possibly a year, that seems, occasionally at least, to attend this scourge.

In Australia, dogs are subjected to intense heat and deprivation of water, and their diet is almost entirely of flesh; but neither these nor any other conditions which may be supposed to be unfavourable to them, have yet originated the disease. The cases of Australasia, then, and of Réunion, afford as conclusive evidence as could obtain, that the disease has not a spontaneous origin, otherwise it would be quite incomprehensible that it should not have appeared during the period—now approaching a century-of occupation by Europeans and their dogs. The colonial legislature having become so fully convinced-after consulting Dr. Burdon Sanderson and Dr. George Fleming, F.R.C.V.S.—that the disease can find its way to their shores only through an infected dog from without, have now totally prohibited the importation of dogs from all parts of the world.

The following notice, issued by the authorities of the Brown Animal Sanitary Institution, Wandsworth-road, London (under the government of the University of London), conveniently sums up the symptoms of rabies :—“This disease occurs in dogs of all ages, and may appear at any season

It is recognised by a change of demeanour of the dog, who becomes dejected, morose, inclined to roam, and anxious to hide himself. The animal gnaws at wood, stones, and any refuse which it sees, snaps at imaginary objects, and becomes unusually excited by strange or sudden noises. It rubs its throat with its paws, as if striving to get

of the year.



rid of some object lodged there; at the same time, there is a more or less abundant flow of saliva from the mouth. The animal is, moreover, very readily excited, and barks with a peculiar harsh, strange cough. The dog will attack its master, or animals of any kind, and is most easily roused to fury by the presence of other dogs. It is feared and shunned by healthy dogs, not only when it attacks them, but when the disease is in a very early stage. There is throughout the disease no dread of water. Before the ten. dency to bite shows itself, the animal may be unusually affectionate to its master, licking his face, and fawning upon him. In one form of the disease, called 'dumb madness' there is paralysis of the jaw, and consequent inability to bite.

Precautions in case of supposed madness: If a dog has shown any of the symptoms of madness mentioned above,

unusual tendency to bite other animals, it should be at once loose-muzzled and chained up; but it is advisable that it should not be destroyed until it has been examined by some authority capable of determining whether it be rabid or not. Owners of dogs are warned of the danger they may incur by allowing their hands and faces (especially if scratched) to be licked by the animals, even if these show no sign of madness. All dog bites should be immediately cleansed by suction and washing, and the wounds cauterised as soon as possible.-CHARLES S. Roy, M.D., Professor, Superintendent." (See remarks on suction subsequently.)

The change in the dog's voice is well described in the following lines from “The Witches' Frolic":

It is not a bark, loud, open, and free,
As an honest old watchdog's bark should be:
It is not a yelp; it is not a growl,

But something between a whine and a howl. A very characteristic symptom, occurring in a large proportion of rabid dogs, is the dropping of the lower jaw.

[blocks in formation]

The animal often wags its tail in answer to soothing words immediately before or after a dangerous paroxysm of mania. It will usually drink greedily—even its own urine-until the condition of inflammation renders the effort painful, when the sight of fluid may bring on a violent spasm or convulsion. Hence the term “hydrophobia" is misleading in most cases; and even an excessive desire to drink should raise no presumption of security. Neither is the presence of the viscid saliva at all a constant symptom.

The aspect of a mad dog, wandering in melancholy mood through the streets, in a steady jog trot, with hanging jaw, has been described by Youatt. He is not usually disposed to go out of his way to attack, but will bite dogs or other animals, or even inanimate objects, such as posts or vehicles, met with on the way. It is generally a sudden snap, and the sufferer passes on his way. Deliberate onslaughts have occasionally occurred, though rarely. Such a dog should be quietly avoided-excitement, noise, and screaming are calculated to provoke an attack.“

Authorities differ as to the term of latency or incubation. In one case, apparently well authenticated, rabies supervened on the third day after the bite was inflicted. The virus may, however, be latent apparently for as long a period as twelve months, or more. The period of incubation may vary from weeks to months in two animals bitten by the same rabid dog. Eight or ten days seems to be about the utmost limit of the life of a rabid dog, the average being five or six days, but death may take place in a shorter time.

The instances of very prolonged latency of the disease in both man and the dog are open to the suspicion that a second unobserved inoculation may have taken place. However carefully a dog may have been watched after having received a bite, he is obviously liable to have incurred a second of so slight a character as to pass unnoticed. Similarly, during the period (of many years) in which the disease has been asserted to be occasionally latent in man, it may

actually have been communicated, not by the first wound, but more recently even by inoculation from the dried saliva of a dog, carried by the wind, and coming into contact with some insignificant scratch or abrasion, or by means of an infected dog licking the scratched hand not long anterior to the appearance of the disease. The fact that rabies has not been conveyed to the Australasian colonies by any one of the many thousands of dogs imported in the course of nearly a century would point to a period of latency generally, if not always, limited to four months, unless we suppose the sea voyage either develops it rapidly—thus insuring the destruction of the dog-or suppresses it altogether.

The following letter, published in the Daily News, may usefully be quoted as worthy of the attention of all who keep dogs: “ Although frequently brought before the public, it is but ill apprehended, and will therefore bear repetition, that, of all maladies, hydrophobia is perhaps the easiest to avert if people will only be at the pains to acquire the necessary knowledge. The premonitory symptoms in the dog

so clear that, although the disease is in truth rare, it is astonishing that it should exist at all, and still more so that any person should contract it from an animal which he has under his own care. I will briefly enumerate the chief signs by which the inception of rabies may be diagnosed. (1) The dog exhibits some peculiar change of character. If previously gentle, he may become savage, or the

He not unfrequently shows increased affection for his master, and a propensity to lick the human hand. As the poison may be communicated in this way, the habit should never be allowed, even in an apparently healthy dog. (2) He evinces a dislike to light and noise, crouching in dark, quiet places. (3) The tone of his bark is modified. (4) His tastes undergo alteration, and he will devour hair, bits of coal, cotton, and other rubbish. (5) He appears the victim of hallucinations, watching imaginary objects in the air, and sometimes snapping at them, as if catching flies.



Behaviour of Rabid Dog.


This symptom is especially dangerous, as it usually precedes the violent stages of the disease, in which the animal is disposed to wander and bite. (6) Dread of water is, in the dog, no indication whatever of rabies, neither is its absence any guarantee of safety. It may possibly be observed, but as a rule the creature drinks with ease. Now, of the above symptoms, any one is sufficient to arouse grave suspicion, though hardly to call for the immediate destruction of the dog; and although warning is given two or three days before he becomes violent, he may “snack” at a moment when least expected. At the first signal of danger, he should therefore be placed in strict quarantine for a fortnight, and during this time no person or animal should be allowed within his reach. If, at the expiration of that period, he be quite well, he may be set at liberty; but, if further symptoms develop, he must be killed. Considering the terrible, and at present incurable, nature of the disease when once it shows itself in the human subject, it is plainly the duty of every man, alike to himself, his household, and the public, to observe these simple rules, and put them into practice when occasion demands; and if it were generally done, I venture to predict that hydrophobia would soon be heard of only as a grim curiosity of the past.—R. H. JUDE (D.Sc., F.C.S., &c.).”

In many cases, there is no suspicion of the presence of the disease until the dog bites. Thus “M. D.” writes to the Daily News : “Not long ago, a pet dog became ill, with symptoms which were at least very suggestive of rabies. Their nature was not suspected, and after the animal had bitten a child of the family, it was sedulously nursed, and actually died in its mistress's lap. The child subsequently died of hydrophobia.”

Even with such full practical knowledge of the disease as is possessed by Mr. Hugh Dalziel, the well-known show judge, and for years the canine critic of the Field, the greatest risk may be incurred in circumstances giving rise to scarcely any suspicion of its presence. His Skye terrier bitch

« PreviousContinue »