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Two weeks from now you could be near death -- a drooling, frothing maniac. You might not remember the animal bite -- since up to 78% of cases have no history of exposure to a rabid animal.

In fact, you could have been infected as long as seven years ago by simply inhaling air from an attic or a nearby cave that harbored infected bats.

Relax -- there's no treatment for this one. Once the symptoms have started, Rabies is 100% fatal.

The rabies virus infects the brain, paralyzing the cranial nerves that allow the host to swallow, causing a drippy wolf-man salivary foam that is loaded with deadly viruses. When the crazed host bites you, infected spit enters your broken skin and the virus crawls slowly through your nerves during a long incubation period, causing vague headache, numbness and tingling that could easily be mistaken for the flu.

Next, during the "excitement phase," victims become "hydrophobic," agitated and demented before lapsing into unconsciousness and dying of frothy respiratory arrest, their brains filled with "negri bodies" -- the actual virus particles. One or two people still die of rabies every year in the USA -- mostly because the diagnosis wasn't recognized in time.

Forget about befriending that strangely acting skunk or sick bat. And be grateful that Louis Pasture set us on the path to modern rabies vaccine -- a simple four-shot series that saves almost 100 % of victims -- including you.

But to be effective, the vaccine must be give as soon as possible after exposure. Have you already hesitated too long?

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