ELECTROTHERAPY IN THE TREATMENT OF PATIENTS AFFECTED BY RABIES: EXPERIMENTS CONDUCTED AT THE “MAGGIORE” HOSPITAL OF MILAN IN 1865
During the nineteenth century, the scientific context of rabies treatment was weak due to the lack of the literature on specific nosology of the rabies disease, and unspecific and ineffectivetherapy approaches. Electrotherapy already represented an important therapeutic approach for nervous system diseases, although not specifically for rabies. In the present paper, the authors discuss the use of electrotherapy in the treatment of humans affected by rabies in an experimental study conducted at the Maggiore Hospital of Milan, with the aim of establishing the discovery of a possible specific therapy. By analyzing the printed scientific sources available in the Braidense Library of Milan, the authors describe four experiments conducted on patients of different ages. Symptoms and effects both during and after the electrotherapy are also highlighted. The experiments demonstrated that electricity is not an effective therapy in the treatment of rabies, being rather able to cause serious functional and organic alterations in all the patients. Analyzing the Milanese experiments, the authors reported specific Italian history of a scientific and medical approach to rabies at the end of the 18th century, which led to the promotion of health education, reinforced prevention strategies and opened the way to the vaccination era.
Key words: Rabies; Electricity; Rabies; Medical History; Medical Research.