Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Extra! Extra! Man Bites Dog! This is no neat switcheroo. The title is usually employed analogously to demark a journalistic trend of headlining breathless and unlikely scoops in lieu of more mature news coverage. That's exactly what I'm doing, too. In Vietnam, especially in the north, men frequently cook and then bite dogs. Animals are considered animals, and while dogs are frequently pets they are just as frequently meat. The fact that this is inconceivable in my culture can be equally mystifying to people here. Can this old saw of journalism mean anything, then, where stories of men biting dogs are as utterly routine as their opposite? Here's an article, published in March by the Public Library of Science, that I just couldn't wait to breathlessly report for its bizarre qualities. In two separate cases, Vietnamese men were admitted into Hanoi medical facilities presenting with similar symptoms: hydro- and aerophobia, intermittent spasms and agitation without attendant elevated blood pressure or temperature. In both cases they were diagnosed with progressive classic encephalitic rabies. Both died within the week. In each case, the cause of infection seems to have been their butchering and consumption of rabies-endemic species: in one case a dog, the other a cat. It's hard to believe any living virus could survive getting cooked--indeed, in neither case did family members at the same table get sick. Each victim even paid some uneducated attention to rabies prevention--had a dog bitten a man in some attention-getting story?--one man actually pulled the teeth out of the dog's head before butchering it. But each man eventually removed and cooked the animal's raw and virulent brain for some traditional dish. The full article can be found here, unillustrated, or downloaded in .pdf format1 including a photo of cooked dogs. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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