Nothing brings two people together quite like rabies. Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy — he’s a journalist, she’s a vet — teamed up to write “Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus.” They’ll be at Politics and Prose on Thursday to discuss the disease’s origin, treatment and how we can avenge the death of Old Yeller.
What drew you to rabies as a subject?
Murphy: It’s made really clear to us in veterinary school that one of our most solemn duties is to protect animals from rabies.
Why do we worry about rabies more than other, more common illnesses?
Wasik: We’ve had rabies around us, mostly in the form of dogs, for all of human history. The dog is this friendly, loyal creature, [but it has] this dark side. The ultimate evil lurking among man’s best friend is rabies.
Even with the human vaccine, it resonates as a threat.
Wasik: Ever since the vaccine was developed [in 1885] and people in the developed world stopped dying of rabies, rabies became a symbol of violent nature in a civilized world. That’s how it’s used in “Old Yeller.”
Did you reread “Old Yeller” as research?
Wasik: I did.
Did you cry at the end?
Wasik: I knew what was coming.