Killing someone you know is a great horror plot device. But it doesn't happen in real life does it?
When Louis Pasteur was working on a rabies vaccine in 1884, he and his colleagues had to take samples from live rabid dogs they kept in the laboratory. With a 100 percent morality rate, one nip meant certain death. The story goes they kept a loaded revolver on hand in case someone was bitten. The most courageous of the team was then expected to shoot their infected team mate. Luckily the revolver was never needed.
This was just one of the many things I discovered from reading the book Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy.
If you want to find a disease that comes close to a "zombie virus" then rabies is it. It causes aggression, hallucinations and the fear of water. Infected animals will come out of the wilds to fearlessly attack humans. However it is a bit slow to infect you. Once bitten by an infected animal, it sometimes takes months for the virus to slowly creep up your spine to finally attack your brain. Despite a vaccine being available, about 55,000 people still die of rabies each year. Hardly anyone survives.
The history of rabies inspired many legends including zombies. For example, the movie 28 Days Later, which features the rage virus, was inspired by rabies. After all, "rabies" is Latin for rage.
This book is a bit dry in places but if you want to appreciate a disease that struck terror in people for centuries, it is essential reading.
Bite bite bite...more that you can chew.