The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Protecting myself from Cujo

Oh Stephen King. Where would we be without your genius? He may not be anything like William Shakespeare but King has this innate ability to dig down deep into your core and tear it right off its foundations. His book It was the first, and thus far only, book that has ever truly given me nightmares.

But lets put it into perspective. I also got nightmares after watching Ernest Scared Stupid.

Back to the topic at hand though. Why am I talking about Stephen King? Well, one of King’s earliest books was a little ditty about a nice German Sheppard St.Bernard named Cujo. One day Cujo went for a walk and got bit by a rabid animal, thus becoming rabid himself, trapping a mother and her son in a dead vehicle.

Cujo Trailer

     Rabies is probably the scariest disease that one could contract. If you are not diligent in seeking medical attention immediately after coming in contact with it, you die. Simple as that. You have 24 hours, if that, to begin treatment, which is a series of five shots. If, however, you have received the three shots of the vaccine, you have a period of seven days to begin treatment, and only a further two shots to get. There is still no guarantee of full recovery.

The shot itself is extremely expensive, probably the most expensive vaccine out there right now. In Saskatchewan here, the whole series of three shots totals $705. Now, the shot, when administered by the International Travel Clinic here, is given via an intra-muscular injection. There is no way around this as the clinic is licensed by Sask Health. I got lucky however in that there is a doctor at the University Hospital who is able to, by way of NOT being licensed by Sask Health, to give the shot intra-dermally.

Now before you all go throwing your hands in the air screaming “Illegal activity!” know this. . . it is totally legal. . . somehow. I don’t question it. The doctor gets a group of up to seven people who are in need of the vaccine together. Since getting the shot intra-dermally requires only a fraction of the dose one gets when getting it intra-muscular. . ly(Dan is going to kill me for my [lack of] correct verb tensing), she is able to split the dose into a number of smaller doses, allowing the group to share the cost. What is interesting is that this is method of vaccination that is most commonly used in Asia and South America and Africa where rabies is much more prevalent. And the degree of protection in the short term is so similar between the two methods to make the difference negligible. Long term effectiveness is a different matter, but boosters seem to bring the levels to parity. The doctor explained how in Vietnam, studies were done on people who were given intra-dermal rabies vaccinations thirty years ago and nothing since. When their blood was tested, it did not show signs of producing the correct antibodies but the moment they were given a small booster shot, the antibodies in the blood shot through the roof, indicating that the immune system still remembered what needed to be developed.

My first shot of the rabies vaccine was on April 8th. I was quite proud of myself that I didn’t need to lie down for it. AND I didn’t faint. Was close though. My hearing went all muffled for a bit and I lost all colour in my arms and face. But I didn’t faint.

The second shot, yesterday, was when I finally got to meet the other people in my “rabies group.” They include a med student who is going to Nepal to work in hospitals there for a month, and a family of four who are leaving in August for a year long backpacking trip around the world.

I totally applaud them in that. While yes, the two children will be missing a year of school, the experience they will have in traveling the world and seeing so many new and different cultures is going to place them far and above their classmates in terms of life lessons. It will most definitely be an experience none of them will forget. I will have their blog address by the end of the month when we meet again for the third and final shot in the rabies series. The little Saskatoon backpacking community is growing by the day it seems!

1 comment:

  1. Cujo is a St. Bernard, Corey, sorry bud but you should of asked the expert your Mother, lol.