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By Dave Hall

For all you hypochondriacs out there, Dave Hall continues his regular look at a some of the more unusual medical conditions, as well as some you thought you knew all about.


Condition Hydrophobia is another name for the Rabies virus, a disease that causes acute encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. It gets this name from the large quantities of saliva and tears that are produced along with a difficulty in swallowing. Also, no amount of drinking will quench the thirst - most annoying!

Patients also often show an extreme fear when presented with liquids to drink or wash in. Most human deaths occur in Africa, Asia and South America. India alone has over 30,000 deaths every year.

Contagion – Bats, foxes, dogs or cats can be infected by the virus and transmit the disease to humans. After being bitten, the virus goes into the central nervous system. Once the virus reaches the brain, it causes rapid inflammation, leading to death in two to ten days – not pleasant!

Danger of death – Only six humans are known to have survived rabies after the onset of symptoms and without treatment. And of those that made it, all but one were left with severe brain damage. The one exception was Jeanna Giese – who survived following 30 days induced coma.  
Incurability? There is no known cure for symptomatic rabies, although it can be prevented by vaccination. There are pre- and post-exposure vaccinations available – but the latter needs to be given within fourteen days of being bitten for it to work – not good if you’re in the middle of nowhere and can't get to a medic. 

Likelihood of getting time off work Because death results quickly after the first symptoms; by the time you’ve got a doctor’s note it’ll be too late. However, if you get the treatment, then you’ll need time to recover – and that will be guaranteed. 
Brag-ability Great if you make it through as you’ll be able to talk about the viscous onslaught of rabid dogs, vampire bats or salivating wolves – if you don’t make it, well, enough said...

Overall ridiculousness Hardly a laughing matter if you’re bitten and infected, but if you’re prepared when you travel to far-flung places, you’ll be just fine. Keep away from weird pets and salivating dogs!

More conditions to come soon:

Cat Scratch Fever, Whooping Cough and more.

Find more curious conditions in Doctor Doctor. If you can't wait for the next Doctor Doctor, then why not find a phunny phobia to keep you going?

Photo: PhD Dre/Wiki

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28 Jun 2011
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