The world has seen many viruses in its day, but one of the most prevalent, and interesting, throughout history, is Rabies. It has caused fear and legends around the world for thousands of years and continues to be relevant to both us and our furry family members today.

For millennia, we have known that Rabies is related to the bites of affected animals. Today, we understand that it is a viral disease transmitted through saliva. It can present in different ways, but it almost always results in a change in temperament, paralysis, seizures, and is considered fatal once symptoms appear.

Before the 1880s, there were many wild and interesting treatment attempts, including putting hair from the infected dog into the bite wound of the victim. This is the origin of the phrase “hair of the dog (that bit you)” as a hangover cure. Unfortunately, none of the attempted remedies were particularly efficient and Rabies continued to ravage society.

The world changed when Louis Pasteur, a French chemist and microbiologist, created a Rabies vaccine in the 1880s. Desperate people sought out this new and unfamiliar treatment for their loved ones. By the time of his death, Pasteur’s discovery had already helped thousands of people make a full recovery, a task previously thought to be impossible.

Through applying these innovations to both human and veterinary medicine, we have been able to significantly control the virus. In modern-day Ontario, where many cities and municipalities require vaccination for all domestic animals, positive Rabies cases are quite rare. Amazingly, through strict quarantine protocols, some places throughout the world are now even considered to be Rabies-free.

However, because Rabies no longer feels like a real threat to us, it is easy to forget the terror of the disease. In places such as India, stray, unvaccinated dog populations are high and poverty restricts many people from accessing the human vaccine. Annually, many thousands of people across the world, mostly children, still continue to die from Rabies every year.

Rabies is the perfect example to show that vaccination is the cornerstone of prevention. It is amazing sometimes how closely linked our furry family member’s health is with our own, and how when we all work together, we can protect our most vulnerable. Let’s all do our part.

Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.