Bite, of a mad dog, an unfortunate accident which but too frequently happens in hot summers ; and is supposed to be occasioned chiefly by suffering that faithful animal to feed upon putrid meat, without supplying it with sufficient water; but more probably originates from a specific contagion, like the small-pox, etc. - The disease thence arising in the human species, is called Cabine Madness, or, according to medical writers, Hydrophobia; a term which literally signifies "dread of water."
This virulent disorder does not, in general, manifest itself till a considerable time after the bite; for, though in some instances it has commenced in seven or eight days after the accident, the patient often continued in health for twenty, thirty, or forty days, nay, sometimes for several months. If the wound be not prevented, it will, in most instances, be healed long before the symptoms of the disease appear; though it frequently resists all healing applications, and forms an ulcer discharging a quantity of matter. The approach of the disease is known by the cicatrix of the wound becoming hard and elevated, and by a peculiar tingling sensation in the part affected ; pains shoot from it towards the throat: in some cases it is surrounded with livid or red streaks, and seems to be in a state of inflammation; more frequently, however, no remarkable external change can be perceived. But the patient soon becomes melancholy, prefers solitude, and is troubled with nausea. Sometimes the characteristic symptom of the disease, the dread of water, suddenly attack the patient, and every attempt to swallow liquids, is accompanied with the most painful sensations. This appears to be a circumstance peculiar to the human race; for mad animals do not evince any dread of water. There is not the least doubt, that the disease is occasioned by the saliva of the mad creature being mixed with the human blood. Unless, therefore, part of the true skin be injured, the poison will not be communicated; but, in the contrary case, the smallest quantity is sufficient to produce the fatal effect. Hence, . if the cuticle has been wounded, it is absolutely neces-sary to remove the surrounding muscular substance by the knife, and to lose no time in submitting to this operation; as it is the only certain and effectual preventive. It is, however, of consequence previously to be convinced, whether the animal has been actually mad; though it is affirmed by creditable writers, that the bite of creatures which were neither diseased nor raving, nay even the bite of healthy dogs, has been productive of hydrophobia. Others have maintained, that the very breath of a mad dog, as well as the blood of a hydropho-bous patient touched by a sound person, have been attended with a similar effect.
In order to ascertain whether a dog is really infected with that distemper, the following particulars deserve attention. Several days previously to the invasion of the disorder, the animal becomes sullen, and shews equal indifference to his master, his food, and drink. His ears and tail droop; instead of barking, he growls and snaps at every surrounding object, runs about irregularly, is no longer able to distinguish his master from strangers, and lolls out his tongue, which is parched, and of a livid hue. At length, he drops down suddenly, starts up again, bites whatever seems to obstruct his passage, and in this condition he seldom survives twenty-four or, at the farthest, forty-eight hours.
Persons bitten during the last period of the disordered animal, are in the greatest danger from the contagious nature of the saliva. If the disease has actually been communicated, the pulse indicates spasms, but it is not always feverish; the patient generally feels a burning heat in the throat and injured part, according to the degree of violence with which the malady is accompanied. But the proximate cause of the affection appears to be confined to the nervous system, unconnected with any other disorder ; so that patients, labouring under the influence of hydrophobia, have overcome the small pox, and quartan agues, without any aggravation of symptoms. Hence opiates, and other narcotics, as is the case in many nervous diseases, produce no effect. As it is generally allowed, that canine madness, if the dread of water has once taken place, can seldom be cured, the most essential part of the treatment will be the speedy application of preventives. For this reason, we have already stated the immediate necessity of cutting away the parts contiguous to the wound, especially where that operation can be performed, without injuring any large blood-vessel. Beside mis precaution, the wound should be frequently washed, by pouring cold water upon it from a considerable height ; and to prevent the canine virus from remaining about the wounded part, it should be kept open, and a discharge of matter promoted for several weeks; by stimulating ointments, mixed with cantharides, or similar applications.
Among other means of destroying the contagious matter at the part, both the actual cautery, and burning with gunpowder, have been occasionally employed ; as fire is one of the most powerful agents. Others have washed the affected place with vinegar, or caustic alkali properly diluted ; the latter of which has been found more effectual.
Bathing in sea-water, as well as drinking it, have been prescribed as preventives. - Dr. Mead, in his treatise on this subject, asserts, that the greatest success has been obtained from diuretics, and consequently directs the following powder: Take ash-coloured ground-liverwort, half an ounce; black pepper two drams: reduce them separately to powder, then mix them together, and divide the whole into four doses, one of which must be taken every morning, fasting, for four days successively, in half a pint ''of warm cows -milk.
The famous East India specific is composed of twenty-four grains of native, and an equal proportion of factitious cinnabar pulverized, with sixteen grains of musk, and taken in a glass of arrack, or brandy. It is esteemed a great antispasmodic, and an infallible remedy for preventing the effects of the canine virus.
Mercury has been recommended as an efficacious preventive, when applied to the wound by friction, and taken inwardly in the form of calomel, to raise, if possible, a slight salivation. At the same time, venesection, opium, the bark, and camphor, have successively been administered in large quantities ; the warm bath ; and every remedy that human invention could suggest. M. Sabatier mentions an instance in which, by repeated attacks of a mad dog, the patient had received twenty-live wounds, and above fifty scratches: these were all radically healed, by the application of the cautery, and of fire, which completely destroyed the poison.
As no specific remedy has yet been discovered for the cure of this dreadful disorder, we shall suggest the following plan of treatment, which, by experience, has been found to be the most effec-tual tual.
After the bitten part has been cut away, and the wound washed with a pickle made of vinegar and salt, it should be dressed twice a day with yellow basilicon, to which may be added a little red precipitate of mercury, or a small portion of the powder of cantharides. Next, it will be advisable to have immediate recourse to diuretic and sudorific remedies; and for this purpose we recommend the following medicines : Eight prepared millepedes; halt" an ounce of Venice treacle ; two drams of volatile salt of hartshorn; one dram of camphor, and eight ounces of what is called water of acatated ammonia. Mix. these ingredients, and let the patient take a small tea-spoonful every hour the first day, till it be attended with profuse perspiration, and a copious discharge of urine : the second day, two tea-spoonfuls may be given every two hours; and, in this proportion, the doses may be gradually increased, till he is enabled to take a table-spoonful, several times a, day. But if, by such progressive doses, the urinary passages should be too much stimulated, or even blood be evacuated, it will be necessary to suspend the use of this medicine, for a few days, till the violence of the symptoms has abated ; and then to add, to each draught, a little gum-arabic dissolved in water; or to drink lintseed-tea, during the course. We have stated this prescription, on the authority of Dr. Selle, late physician to the King of Prussia, and one of the most eminent medical philosophers on the Continent.
In those cases, however, where the absorption of the poison cannot be prevented, and the dread ', of water has already seized the patient, it will be useless to trouble him with liquid medicines; but large doses of musk and opium then become necessary; and every kind of irritation ought to be carefully avoided. Although the cold bath, and mercurial frictions, have been very generally used, and sometimes been attended with apparently good effects, yet little or no reliance can be placed on them, when the disease has made any progress in the system. We are firmly persuaded that, where the bite bite of a mad dog has been neglected for several days, or weeks, neither the skill of the most expe-. rienced practitioner, nor the most celebrated Nostrums, can afford the desired relief.