Science Bites Back
July 6, 1885 - Until this day, all human cases of rabies were fatal. The terrible viral disease is usually transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. Headache, fever and violent mania will then set in before the victim slips into a coma from which he or she will never emerge.
Frenchmen Louis Pasteur and Émile Roux were experimenting with a vaccine they harvested from infected rabbits. When a nine-year-old boy named Joseph Meister was bitten by a rabid dog, Pasteur and Roux put their treatment to the test. It worked! Meister did not contract the virus.
As an adult, Meister worked as a caretaker at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. During the Nazi occupation of Paris he grew desperately depressed about sending his family away. He had become convinced that they were dead. Meister killed himself with his gas furnace, and in a cruel twist his family returned later that same day.