Old British rabies paranoia films

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/26/old-british-rabies-paranoia-fi.html





I never knew Eric Idle was an M.D. (first advert).


No…but Graham Chapman was.


Then there was that updated version featuring Johnny Depp a few years back…


Seems v odd that they’d produce scare ads if there wasn’t some specific threat. Was rabies causing problems on the continent back then?

But if there was a specific threat of some kind of rabies being brought into the country, then paranoia would be rational, especially considering that people who come down with it almost never survive, and the symptoms are horrific:

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It’s not really paranoia if it’s a real threat. I hadn’t realized Britain was rabies free. It really is a problem elsewhere (including continental Europe and the US). While there’s a vaccine (and unlike most vaccines, it is effective even in early stages of infection), there aren’t really good treatment options for either humans and non-human animals once the disease sets in.


While Britain is rabies free, it’s not rabies free enough for importing a pet to Australia. We still have to give our cat multiple rabies treatments and have a a 180 days waiting period in UK before a 10 day quarantine in Australia.

There are very few places that Australia and NZ consider truely rabies free, aside from themselves, Japan, Singapore and Iceland it is mostly Pacific Island nations (inc Hawaii)


Actually in the EU it isn’t.

2014: 3 cases of infected humans in the EU, all imported from outside the EU
2015: 0 cases
2016: 0 cases
2017: 1 case, imported from outside the EU

That’s in a population of 512 million btw

Very few cases of rabies in humans are reported in the EU, and most EU Member States have not had autochthonous cases for decades.

Data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control

The rabies scare is/was always another vehicle for xenophobia/superiority complex - „Oh my gosh - dirty furriners bringing in diseases!“


Of course, rabid animals are among the least lethal animals in Australia.

When I moved my dog from the UK to Hawaii she had to go through several months of quarantine, but that was because we stopped in California first. Nowadays a good vaccination record is an acceptable substitute, which makes it odd that Australia would be more accepting of animals from Hawaii than from the UK.

Rabies was relatively common in some ground animals (like foxes) in continental Europe until the introduction of oral “vaccinations” into wildlife in the (I think) 1980s. This pretty much eliminated it (I think there are still pockets of the disease in some bat populations), proving once again the effectiveness of herd immunity. Now, if only we could sneak similar oral vaccines for measles into herds of California children.


Rabies is one of the worst ways to die in the world, and any reasonable country takes care to not allow it spread.


British bats sometimes have rabies, being bitten by one is about the only way someone could catch rabies here.



I do not see that as paranoia in the least. I grew up in a area of Canada that was locally called the Rabies Capital of the World.

A couple of hundred years ago, we lost a Governor-General to rabies.

Any unknown animal showing unusual behaviour would be reported to the authorities immediately, or, alternatively shot and the body picked up by the authorities.

As a child, I have had neighbours undergo those painful shots; about 25 years ago my sister lost a dog to rabies when the dog’s rabies vaccine failed.

While I think, now, the Australian 6 month quarantine is a bit much, I have no problem with a quarantine long enough to be certain the animal is vaccinated.

The real problem with introducing rabies into some place like the UK or Australia is that no one there expects it nor are there any precautions in place so it could spread like wildfire among human and animal populations without medical doctors or veterinarians even realising what they are seeing.


Now that we have managed to spread the zombie virus throughout humanity we only need to hit regional centers with targeted rabies outbreaks to do some really nifty bank robberies unopposed!

It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s a combination of these being 80s pieces (western Europe being pretty much rabies free wasn’t really a finished project at that point, most list a post 1990 nominal elimination date) and a desire by the UK authorities to avoid giving the impression that the quarantine rules were more about xenophobia than disease.

Specifically, you aren’t going to remain rabies free for long if you don’t keep a close eye on animals coming in from India and Pakistan, where it’s properly endemic; but putting those travellers under maximum paranoia quarantine while letting the reasonably-safe-ish first world that hasn’t finished cleaning up its animal vectors types slide would definitely look like it might have more to do with your opinions on the people rather than the risks.


This old movie certainly made me paranoid. After watching it as a kid, it took me a few days to stop freaking out whenever the family dog tried to lick me. :dog::cold_sweat:


If the xenophobia were just aimed at “dirty brown furriners” and not at “dirty furriners” in general your theory probably holds true. The rhetorics used during the recent Brexit referendum make me suspect otherwise.

As an Aussie I take exception to that. Our sole rabies issue is with people sneaking animals into the country without following process.

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And Rabies isn’t the only reason to eradicate dogs and cats!