When did we start calling hydrophobia “rabies”?

This was this morning’s mystery. Not for any particular work, mind you, but I was re-reading my Dracula chapter, and I remembered how interesting it had been for me to learn that rabies used to be called “hydrophobia.” When did the transition happen?

 

 

Some interesting observations:

Hydrophobia seemed like a suitable name for some time. In many cases, apparently, its victims reportedly avoided water. Even as cases were reported where this was not the case—even that a patient instead gorged himself on water—the name stuck around. There was quite a bit of overlap—decades during which people wrote both “rabies” and “hydrophobia.” I imagine that with medical terms in particular there’s a lot of “rabies, formerly known as hydrophobia,” &c. &c.

The use of “hydrophobia” persisted even long after it was fairly settled that rabies did not necessarily manifest as a fear of drinking, or being near to, or getting into, water. Even for decades after Louis Pasteur’s treatment was developed and accepted (it took a while). The significant drop, after the 1920s, is likely due to the fact that the last recorded case in the U.K.was in 1922 (and largely controlled by the 1890s due to muzzling orders).

At its late stages, it seems that rabies is quite unbearable, and one of the ways in which late-stage rabies was handled was, essentially, euthanasia. (The victim would be smothered under a mattress.) There is still no cure as such, but our modern-day treatment (prevention via practices of animal control and the prophylaxis first developed by Pasteur) is effective enough, and we no longer worry about rabies during the “dog days” of summer.

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