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Thursday, July 06, 2017

July 6, 1885

I'm actually flying through this week's Throwback Thursday by the seat of my pants, as I haven't chosen a topic yet and probably won't until I look through the events of July 6.  Apparently July 6 is a day that was filled with a LOT of significant history, and picking one is next to impossible.  Just have a look!

1483 - Richard III is crowned King of England

1777 - The Siege of Fort Ticonderoga takes place during the American Revolutionary War

1779 - The Battle of Grenada takes place

1854 - The first convention of the United States Republican Party is held in Jackson, Michigan

1907 - Artist Frida Kahlo (d. 1954) is born in Coyoacan, Mexico City, Mexico

1914 - Founder of the WWE Vince McMahon Sr. (d. 1984) is born in Harlem, New York

1919 - British dirigible R34 lands in New York, completing the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean via airship

1921 - 42nd First Lady of the United States Nancy Reagan (d. 2016) is born in New York City

1925 - Rock singer Bill Haley (d. 1981) and game show creator Merv Griffin (d. 2007) are both born on this date

1927 - Actress Janet Leigh (d. 2004) is born in Merced, California

1933 - The first Major League Baseball All-Star Game is played in Comiskey Park in Chicago

1939 - The last remaining Jewish enterprises in Germany are shut down as a direct result of the Holocaust

1940 - Brisbane, Australia's Story Bridge is opened to the public

1942 - Anne Frank and her family go into hiding in the "Secret Annexe" above her father's office in an Amsterdam warehouse

1944 - Baseball player Jackie Robinson refuses to move to the back of a bus leading to a court-martial

1957 - Althea Gibson wins the Wimbledon Championships - the first black tennis player to do so; on that same day, Paul McCartney and John Lennon meet up for the first time as teenagers

1971 - Singer Louis Armstrong dies at the age of 69

1982 - Actress Misty Upham (d. 2014) is born in Kalispell, Montana

1986 - David Phinney becomes the first American cyclist to win a road stage of the Tour de France

1989 - An Arab passenger aboard a bus enroute from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem attacks the driver as the bus is traveling along a cliffside; fourteen people are killed in the crash

1998 - Actor/singer Roy Rogers dies at the age of 86

1999 - U.S. Army private Barry Winchell is murdered by Calvin Glover because Winchell was dating a transgender Navy Corpsman

2003 - Actor/singer Buddy Ebsen dies at the age of 95

2013 - A train derails and explodes in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, destroying part of the town's downtown core and killing 47 people

And celebrating a birthday today are the following people; Della Reese, Ned Beatty, Gene Chandler, Jeannie Seely, George W. Bush, Fred Dryer, Sylvester Stallone, James Kiberd, Geoffrey Rush, Nanci Griffith, Allyce Beasley, Willie Randolph, Jennifer Saunders, Robin Antin, Heather Nova, Inspectah Deck, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Adam Busch, Tia and Tamera Mowry, Kevin Hart, Gregory Smith, Diamond Rings, and Sophie Auster.

So, those are all the subjects that I did not choose for today.  So, what date will I be talking about this week?

I'll admit that when I was looking at subjects to choose from, I was completely at a loss as to pick a topic that seemed interesting.  And then it hit me.  I needed to go back in time.  Way back in time.

Like, say...July 6, 1885.  Yeah, we're going back in time one hundred and thirty-two years. 

And the question related to this week's Throwback Thursday post is this.  How many of you have heard of a disease known as rabies?

I know.  Silly question.  Most of us know what it is.  And let's put it this way.  It's a really BAD disease to get.  Rabies is a viral disease that can cause the swelling of the brain and has a ton of symptoms that are not very nice.  Perhaps the most common of these symptoms is the foaming of the mouth, as the disease causes increased saliva production.  And generally speaking, rabies can be considered an instant death sentence, as a person who starts showing symptoms will likely die from the disease within two to ten days afterwards.  So, needless to say, it's not something that you want to contract. 

The most common way to contract rabies is to come in contact with an animal that has the rabies virus in them.  While dog bites are one way to contract them, it's important to know that dog bites only make up 5% of rabies cases.  You're actually more likely to get rabies from a bat than you are a dog. 

Of course, prior to 1885, anybody who contracted rabies was going to die.  And there was no way to prevent people who had gotten bitten by a rabid animal to contract the disease in the first place.

At least that was the case until Louis Pasteur came along.

Now, if that name sounds familiar, it's because he's also the man who invented the pasteurization process for milk and dairy products.  But did you know that he also patented a vaccine for rabies along with Emile Roux?  It's quite impressive, given that Pasteur wasn't a medical doctor at the time and could have easily been charged with medical malpractice.  To everybody's surprise, the vaccine ended up being quite effective.

The vaccine was harvested from rabid rabbits already infected with the disease, and the virus was purposely weakened within the nerve tissue by letting it dry between a period of five to ten days.  And it was put to the ultimate test on July 6, 1885 when a nine year old boy named Joseph Meister.  Meister was bitten by a rabid dog, and it was feared that the bite would cause him to die.

But with the rabies vaccination that Pasteur developed, it was decided that it would be used on Meister despite the fact that it was never tested on humans and that the results were more or less unpredictable.  But the treatment was very successful and Meister did not develop the rabies virus.  It also served as the prototype for more effective virus treatments, and these days rabies can be successfully treated and eradicated before symptoms begin to show - though anyone who has ever undergone the rabies shot can probably tell you how painful a procedure it can be.  Although given the alternative, it's a far sight better to undergo a series of shots than die.

As for what happened to Joseph Meister?  Well, after surviving the series of rabies shots, he went on to serve as a caretaker for the Pasteur Institute until his death via suicide in 1940.  In a tragic twist of fate, he had decided to take his own life just ten days after Germany invaded Paris, France because he had thought he had sent his family away to death - only for his family to return the same day he died.

However, despite the bittersweet ending, Meister - as well as Louis Pasteur - managed to help save thousands of lives each year.  That's something to celebrate.

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