Late one moonlit night, three fictional revelers on an English moor were transfixed by a horrific sight: “a foul thing, a great, black beast, shaped like a hound, yet larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested upon. And even as they looked the thing tore the throat out of Hugo Baskerville, on which, as it turned its eyes and dripping jaws upon them, the three shrieked with fear and rode for dear life.” Historians of medicine have traced the terror that the The Hound of the Baskervilles evoked in Arthur Conan Doyle’s fans to the profound impact of rabies on contemporary British consciousness. With an ability to turn the most placid of pets into frothing, raging beasts and an almost 100 percent mortality rate, the rabies virus was one of the most feared scourges in human history.
Having trouble accessing this article? Please visit our FAQ page for more information
Support Science Journalism
Discover new insights into neuroscience, human behavior and mental health with Scientific American Mind.