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The Rabies Virus
Rabies virus belongs to the order Mononegavirales, viruses with a nonsegmented, negative-stranded RNA genomes. Within this group, viruses with a distinct "bullet" shape are classified in the Rhabdoviridae family, which includes at least three genera of animal viruses, Lyssavirus, Ephemerovirus, and Vesiculovirus. The genus Lyssavirus includes rabies virus, Lagos bat, Mokola virus, Duvenhage virus, European bat virus 1 & 2 and Australian bat virus.
Because there is no cure and death is almost certain, treatment for rabies involves supportive care. However, if a person is bitten by a rabid animal and has not yet experienced symptoms, there is an extremely effective post-exposure treatment, which includes an injection of rabies immune globulin and several containing rabies vaccine given over a 28-day period.
A genetically-engineered virus tested in 30 terminally-ill liver cancer patients significantly prolonged their lives, killing tumours and inhibiting the growth of new ones, scientists reported on Sunday.
After an average of 30 to 50 days (as short as 14 days or longer than a year) from exposure to a rabid animal, a person develops an illness...
...that may include fever, sore throat, stiff muscles, headache, tiredness, restlessness, nausea, and itching or tingling at the site of the bite. As the disease progresses, a person may become agitated, with periods of calm. Fear of water caused by severe throat spasms when trying to drink may occur. Paralysis then starts in the legs and moves towards the head. Most people die from cardiac arrest or respiratory failure within a short period after onset of illness.
Engineered Zombie Virus Possible?
It's theoretically possible—though extremely difficult—to create a hybrid rabies-influenza virus using modern genetic-engineering techniques, the University of Miami's Andreansky said.
"Sure, I could imagine a scenario where you mix rabies with a flu virus to get airborne transmission, a measles virus to get personality changes, the encephalitis virus to cook your brain with fever"—and thus increase aggression even further—"and throw in the ebola virus to cause you to bleed from your guts. Combine all these things, and you'll [get] something like a zombie virus," she said.
"But [nature] doesn't allow all of these things to happen at the same time. ... You'd most likely get a dead virus."