Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cocke County Children Treated for Rabies

Rabies has been a known disease for more than 5,000 years. In the 1800s especially, canine rabies was particularly prevalent, especially in Europe. In truth, though, the fear of rabies was much worse than the actual chances of contracting it; people were known to commit suicide upon being bitten by a dog to avoid the possibility of rabies. It was in that climate of almost irrational fear that Louis Pasteur introduced the first vaccine in 1885.

In 1909, eight children from Cocke County were bitten by a rabid dog. Just a year earlier, a Pasteur Institute had opened in Atlanta, and the community pitched in and sent the children there for treatment. Pasteur himself had died more than a decade earlier, but institutes named in his honor were opened in a number of U.S. cities that focused primarily on rabies treatment and sometimes research.

The article below is from The Atlanta Constitution, page 9, on February 12, 1909. The identities of the children are not given.

Citizens of Newport, Tenn., Raise Funds by Public Subscription.

Eight children from Newport Tenn. who were bitten by a dog suffering from rabies have arrived in Atlanta for treatment at Pasteur institute. A dog of W. F. Stanberry, of Newport, disappeared last Saturday after having bitten Mr. Stanberry’s child. Several other children were also bitten. The dog was finally killed and his head sent to a specialist in Atlanta who, after examination, pronounced the canine was afflicted with rabies. Immediately a public subscription was raised and the children sent to Atlanta for treatment in the hope of saving their lives. They are all doing splendidly.

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Newport to Atlanta, about 219 miles by modern roads

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