Rabies was discovered as a human disease by Girolamo Fracastoro, a 16th century Italian physician. The disease has been recognized as an animal disease for thousands of years. The rabies vaccine was developed in 1885 by Louis Pasteur.
Rabies is caused by a virus that enters the body through the bite from an infected animal. The disease progresses in five stages. The incubation period lasts on average between 30 and 90 days. From there it moves to the prodromal stage, in which the patient begins to show symptoms. The acute neurological period lasts from 2 to 7 days and can be recognized when the patient begins to foam at the mouth and become weak. From there the patient moves to the coma stage and finally death. In almost all cases, rabies is fatal. As of June 2014, there has been only seven documented cases of a patient recovering from rabies.