Rabies, the Physician's Dilemma

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Wherever rabies is endemic among dogs, every physician in general practice will sooner or later be confronted with the problem of the management of human exposures, be they real or imaginary. Two responsibilities face him. One is the relatively simple procedure of administering antirabic vaccine to persons whose exposure is a definite break through the skin made by the teeth of a known or suspectedly rabid animal. The second far greater responsibility is the psychologic problem of rabiphobia whose victims far outnumber those actually in need of protection.

As very aptly stated by Denison (1), “there is no disease (other than rabies) about which the public is more misinformed. The fears, horrors and superstitions of exposed individuals, magnified by a superabundance of bad advice from well-meaning friends, often produce a state of mental panic before the physician can be reached.

Author Notes

Formerly Director, Division of Laboratories, Georgia Department of Public Health.

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