Rabies Just Can’t Get Any Respect

What does a killer disease have to do to get attention these days? Last year, people watched with horror as Ebola ravaged West Africa and spread fear around the globe. Now it’s the turn of the upstart Zika virus to grab the headlines as an international health emergency.

Meanwhile, I’ve just been quietly doing my thing, killing about 60,000 people per year in the most gruesome way imaginable. But hey, I’m just rabies — nothing to get worked up over, right?

I’ll admit Ebola and the Zika virus are particularly nasty. Aided by air travel they are capable of spreading at jet speed, infecting susceptible populations across the globe. Adding to the fear factor is the fact that at the start of the recent outbreaks, no vaccines were readily available.

Every death is devastating to family and friends, so maybe comparisons aren’t helpful. But just look at the numbers! Every year I am responsible for more than five times the number of deaths reported during the most recent Ebola outbreak and many of my victims are children younger than 15. Surely that deserves some proper recognition?

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