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Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Rabies, rats and friendly little puppies. Memories of Vietnam

I came across this article earlier today.

Rabies was an ever present worry for me. It's strange though in all the years I was in Vietnam I never needed an ant-rabies vaccination but out jogging one day in France I was bitten by a dog and needed a series of six shots.

I never approached stray animals. I remember the case of this GI who was playing with a friendly puppy one day and developed rabies. They reported on his dying every fifteen minutes on the armed forces radio just to get every one well and truly scared. I had always been cautious of wild savage dogs but until that time never knew that friendly little puppies were just as deadly. The withdrawal of the US forces and the abandonment of their pets caused a spread of the disease. One of our pilots in Van Kiep was bitten by a rat whilst sleeping and needed the anti-rabies shots. As there was an outbreak of bubonic plague in the province at the time rats really got me worried.

I could never understand the lackadaisical attitude of the Vietnamese towards rats in particular and animals in general. When I got a cat in Saigon to try to keep down the rats I insisted it was vaccinated but had to get into a flaming temper before anyone in my household would actually do something about it. They weren't unkind, just unconscious of the danger.

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