Mad dogs, rabies, and maps of the world

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Sandra Porter


Over 55,000 people die each year from rabies, a disease that is 100% preventable, according to Dr. Guy Palmer, who spoke last night at the University of Washington. Dr. Palmer is from the School for Global Animal Health, a group that works towards improving global health through advancing preventative care for both humans and animals. One of the preventative measures is through rabies vaccination.


Image from the CDC Public Library of Health.

Rabies cases can be prevented by vaccinating dogs and other animals that carry the virus like raccoons, skunks, and foxes. The virus itself has a genome made from a single strand of RNA that must be copied before the information can be used to make proteins. When someone is infected with rabies, it attacks the central nervous system, which results in weird behaviors like frothing at the mouth, and symptoms like hallucinations.

Where does rabies present the greatest challenge to human health?
Dr. Palmer talked about a site from the University of Michigan, where they have made maps called "cartograms." Cartograms are used to adjust the information on a map for specific variables, like population. The site where I found the rabies map, below, is In the first map, the country size is adjusted for the size of the population.


© Copyright 2006 SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan)

In the second map, the country size is adjusted for deaths from rabies between 1995 and 2004.


© Copyright 2006 SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan)


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