THE bite of the mad dog, or mad wolf, or other hydrophobic animal, is the most dangerous of all poisoned wounds, because it is apt to be followed by a disease for which there is no certain remedy. Fortunately, the human subject is not as susceptible to the effects of the poison as some of the lower animals; for only about one tenth of those bitten are attacked by hydrophobia.
Symptoms. The interval between the bite and the appearance of the disease varies from twelve days to two months. The wound heals like any other bite of a similar animal. After a time, the sear begins to have darting, lancinating pains, which, if it be a limb that was bitten, run up towards the body. Sometimes it feels cold, or stiff, or numb, or becomes red, swelled, or livid, and occasionally breaks open, and discharges matter. The patient feels a strange anxiety, is depressed in spirit, has an occasional chill, and disturbed sleep, and spasmodic twitches. The pulse is above its natural state, both in quickness and strength, and the nervous system is very impressible. The senses are all more acute; trifling noises produce agitation, and the eyes are so disturbed by the light that the patient sometimes hides himself in a dark place. The appetite is lost. This is the first stage.
Thirst now appears, and he attempts to drink. But the moment water approaches his mouth, a spasmodic shudder comes over him; he pushes it back with horror; the awful fact of his condition flashes upon him; and he cries out, , What I have dreaded has come upon me.9)
Thenceforward he can swallow no fluids; complains of pain and stiffness about his neck; is thrown into convulsions by the sight of water, or even the sound of liquids agitated in a vessel, or by a breath of air blowing upon him, by a bright light, or by the glare of a mirror. His throat is full of a viscid, glary matter, which he continually tries to clear away. Thus, between convulsions, in which he struggles, and sometimes strives to bite his attendants, and comparative stillness, during which he suffers great depression of spirits, he passes three or four days, and then dies either in a spasm, or from exhaustion.
Treatment. Immediate suction of the wound, with care being taken that the person whose lips are used has no abrasion or wounds there, followed by disinfection is certainly the best method, if resort cannot be had to some of the institutions where Pasteur injective treatment can be utilized. Disinfection may be carried out if the wound is a torn one, not a narrow and deep one, or in the latter case it would probably be better to cut away enough flesh so that the disinfectant may reach the bottom of the wound. The use of corrosive sublimate in the strength of one part to 500 of water applied to the wound for five or ten minutes and then a poultice of weak solution of one part to 3,000 of water applied and bound on. The corrosive tablet sold at all drug stores contains about 7 grains of poison, and dissolving one of these in a half pint of water makes a strength of one to 500; a strength 1 to 1,000 maybe made by dissolving one tablet in a pint of water.
Some of the Western physicians declare the red chickweed, or scarlet pimpernel, to be an absolute remedy for this disease, and cite some quite remarkable cases of its success. Four ounces of this plant, in the dried state, are directed to be boiled in two quarts of strong beer or ale, until the liquid is reduced one half. The liquid is to be pressed out and strained, and two drams of laudanum added to it. The dose for a grown person is a wine glassful every morning for three mornings. A larger dose is required if the disease have begun to show itself ; and if the case be fully developed, the whole may be taken in a day. The wound is to be bathed with the same decoction. The medicine, it is said, produces profuse sweating. It is worth a trial.
Considerable has been said of late of a remedy used in some parts of Europe, and said to be effectual. It is the ,golden cenotides " (cetonia aurata), or common rose beetle, found in large quantities on all rose trees. A similar insect is said to infest the geranium plant. When collected, they are dried and powdered; and given in this form, relieve excitement (so it is said) of the brain and nerves, and throw the patient into a sound sleep.
Any statements made on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA
and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or condition.
Always consult your professional health care provider.
copyright 2005, J. Crow Company, New Ipswich NH 03071