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The spread of rabies into Europe and the probable origin of this disease in antiquity1

  • P. B. Adamson

Extract

An outbreak of rabies among silver foxes in Poland in 1939 has led to widespread dissemination of the disease in animals throughout most of the countries of Europe, and has stimulated intensive study of the rabies virus.

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NOTES

2 Kaplan, M. M., Nature, 1969, No. 221, 423; idem, Proc. Roy. Soc. Med., LXIV, 1971, 226.

3 Kaplan, op. cit., 424; Allen, G. M., Bats, New York, 1939, 323; Nilsson, M. R., Bol. Ofic. Sanit. Panamer., LXVIII, 1970, 493.

4 Kaplan, op. cit., 226.

5 One recovery after intensive, prolonged treatment has been reported in the medical literature.

6 Everard, C. O. R., Murray, D., Gilbert, P. K., Trans. Roy. Soc. Trop. Med. Hyg., LXVI, 1972, 878. Rabies apparently was absent, for example, in Puerto Rico between 1933 and 1950, yet a major epizootic suddenly occurred in 1950.

7 Kaplan, op. cit., 421; Castiglioni, A., History of medicine, New York, 1946, 223; Allbutt, T. C., Greek medicine in Rome, London, 1921, 342. Asklepiades (fl. 1st century B.C.) is reputed to have given the first adequate description of the disease.

8 Goetze, A., in ANET (1955), 163, paras. 5657.

9 Ebeling, E., ZDMG, LXXIV, 1920, 175178. Text VAT 8258. obv. 6: ina pī kalbē (pl.) dannatu lā iṭẖi i-di-i ẖar-gul-lu, “Muzzle strong dogs.” The ancient Hebrews recommended dogs to be chained (Baba Kamma, 7, 7).

10 Ebeling, E., RIA, III, Berlin, 1957, 119; Gardiner, A., Egyptian grammar, 3rd ed., London, 1969, E14, 15, 17, 18; Faulkner, R. O., Concise dictionary of Middle Egyptian, Oxford, 1972, 12: íw, íwíw; Budge, E. A. W., The book of the dead, London, 1938, I, 13, II, ch. 24, 3; 64, 18; Penar, T., Biblica et Orientalia, 28, Roma, 1975, 18. Rations for dogs in the Ur III period probably from Lagash: Tablets BM 15149, 15170, 15185, 14562, and 13495. See also Lloyd, S., The Dawn of Civilisation, London, 1961, 168, fig. 21: Dorak burial, c. 2550 B.C.

11 B. Landsberger, Die Fauna: 68. ur.bar.ra = bar-ba-ru “wolf”; 97. ur.nigin =sa-᾽-i-du “hunting dog”; 104. kir 4 = bu-ú-ṣu “hyena”; 105. ši = bu-ú-ṣu; 107. ka5.a = še-el-li-bi “fox”.

12 Ebeling, op. cit. n. 10, 86; Labat, R., Manuel d'épigraphie akkadienne, 3rd ed., Paris, 1959, No. 462: ẖabrud.da.mušen = iṣṣur ẖarri; No. 7: su.din. (mušen) = sudinnu; A. Deimel Sumerisches Lexikon, 7, 161; Luckenbill, D. D., OIC, 2, Chicago, 1924, 24, I, 18. But note B. Landsberger, MSL, VIII, 2, No. 301: su.din = kur-mit-tum; and Thomson, R. C., Dictionary of Assyrian botany, London, 1949, 76 n. 6.

13 Faulkner, op cit., 211: s 3 ẖmw;p. 315: drgyt; p. 317: dgyt: Davies, N. M., JEA, XXXV. 1949, 1320, Pl. III.

14 Peterson, R., Silently by night, London, 1966, 150; Harrison-Matthews, L., “Bat”, Chambers Encyclopaedia, London, 1950, II, 157

15 Kilmer, A. D., JAOS, 83, 1963, 430: 1.75. na-ad-ru = še-gu-u; 76. na-al-bu-bu = ditto; 76a. na-an-du-ru = ditto; 77. ka-duẖ-ẖu-u = ditto. See also W. G. Lambert, BWL, 34, Comm. 86.

16 Landsberger, op. cit. n. 11: 95. ur.idim = kal-bu še-gu-ú; 103. sal+ur.šu.zi.ga = na-dirti. See also E. Reiner, AfO, Bhf. 11, 1958: Šurpu: Šurpu VIII.7. ur.idim.ma: Faulkner, op. cit., 286–7: kh3, khb: “to rage furiously, to be violent”; p. 316, dšrìb, dšrḥr: “furious, (redness)”. These terms were only found in descriptive texts about the pharaoh.

17 Lambert, op. cit., 216, 23: (šēlibu) ina ba-ba-at àli ina (qé)-re-bi-šu ú-ṭar-ri-du-šú kal-bi, “(the fox) in his approaching the city gates, the dogs drove him away”; 216, 32: šikkū la-pa-an kal-bi ina nam-ṣa-bi (e-tar-ba), “a mongoose, out of the way of a dog, entered a drain-pipe”; 218, 55–6: barbaru … (ina su)-qa-a-ni šaẖē (pl.) ú-ṭar-(ra-du-šú), “a wolf … the pigs drive him out along the streets.”

18 Babylonian und Assyrien, Heidelberg, 1925, II, 235, quoting Ebeling, Text KAR 26.

19 Théodoridès, J., Proc. XXIII Intern. Congr. Hist. Med.(London,1972), London, 1974, II, 1252.

20 Boissier, A., Choix de textes (1905): 37. rev.: š. kalbē (pl.) iššeguma ina sūqi irtanabu … “if dogs are raging and rush into the street … ”; CT 20.28. rev. 13: nēšūin-na-(an)-dar … “a lion becomes furious”; CT 28.40.14: š. KIMIN U.TU-ma seẖri (pl.) GAR in-na-dir-ma ú-na-šak, “if a pig gives birth and its young are formed, she becomes enraged and will bite”; CT41.31.36: š.ŠA.MEŠ it-ta-na-(ad)-da-ru, “if pigs were made furious”; Thureau-Dangin, F., VIIIème campagne de Sargon, Paris, 1912, 1, 420: ki-ma kal-bi na-ad-ri … “(Sargon) like a dog filled with madness”; F. Köcher, KADP 22.1V.rev. 15b: na-(an)-du-ur nèšī (u) barbari, “the furiousness of lion and wolf”. Compare behavioural patters in other texts: CT 39.26.4: š. kalbu ana šaẖi ú-ẖa-(an-ni)-iṣ … “if a dog rubs itself against a pig … ”; CT 39.26.6: š. kalbu ana šēibi ú-ẖa-a(n)-ni-iṣ … “If a dog rubs itself against a fox … ” Cf. also texts CT 39.26.13, 17, 19, 25. J. Nougayrol, RA, XL, 1945–6, 6, 56–97: Text AO 7033.II, 11: (i-na) mu-hi MÁŠ ši-lu II III na-du ka-al-bu i-ši-gu-ú, “If on the ‘excrescence’ of the liver are found two or three ‘cavities’: dogs will have rabies.” Note in Hebrew that *šg‘ was only used in a contemptuous sense for people.

21 AMT 73.2.4: … pi-ti sudinni(ẖu)

22 Allbutt, op. cit. n. 7, 342 n. 1.

23 Intermediate Greek-English lexicon, Oxford, 1955, 481 , ; Xenophon, Anab, 5, 7, 26; Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 298.

24 Aristotle,Hist, anim., 8, 22.

25 Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, loc. cit. n. 23.

26 Shoshan, A., Koroth, VI, 1974, CLXICLXII, CLXX; Tract. Yoma, 83b–84a.

27 Celsus, De med., 5, 27, 2A –C; Pliny, Hist. nat., 32, 17, 46–7.

28 Dioscorides, The Greek herbal, New York, 1959, I, 132; II, 49, 153; III, 95; IV, 151; Pliny, 20, 46, 117; 23, 63, 119; 32, 31, 97; and numerous other prescriptions.

29 Caelius Aurelianus, Morb. acut., III, 9; Aelian, De anim., IX, 15; XII, 22; XIV, 20; Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica, VII, 125; Ovid, Ex Ponto, 1, 3, 24.

30 Tract. Yoma, 84a. Note the fear expressed by Aretaeus (fl. A.D. 150) (Adams, F., The extant works of Aretaeus the Cappadocian, London, 1856, Bk. I, 7).

31 Hist, eccles., 9, 8, 10; 10, 4, 14.

32 Adams, F., The seven books of Paulus Aegineta, London, 1844, Bk. V, 3.

33 Budge, E. A. W., Syriac book of Medicines, Oxford, 1913, II, 153, 687.

34 Rosner, F., Amer. Med. Ass., 205, 1968, 915, quoting Maimonides' Treatise on poisons, Sect. l, ch. 5.

35 Mildner, Th., Med. Klin., 63, (34), 1968, 1334, quoting J. Fothergill (1799) on mortality from bites from rabid wolves. Of 17 people bitten by rabid wolves, ten acquired rabies.

36 Vaccination does not offer complete protection against this disease. See the mortality rates quoted by Veeraraghavan, N., Bull. W.H.O., 10, 1954, 793.

1 Based on a lecture given to the XXIIIe Rencontre d'Assyriologie Internationale, held at Birmingham, July, 1976.

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