Rabies, Greek caves and bats!
I’ve just had my second rabies injection, ahead of my Greek trip at the end of May. Not because I’m an inoculation junkie, or even slightly paranoid. Dogs are common in Greek villages but mad dogs are rare these days.
No, it’s because the biggest carriers of rabies in Europe are bats. And the Greek cave I’m going down into has a large bat population – or did back in 1893 when the cave was first explored. I’ve used the original cavers’ account to write the cave section in my new book The Bow, complete with flailing bats that come pouring out of a low crack that my heroes have to crawl through.
My travel doctor explained that bat teeth are so fine, you often don’t know you’ve been bitten. So I could come out of the cave thinking I’m absolutely fine, and die horribly within a few months. A few near-painless injections at the doctors seems like a sensible alternative.
Rabies is one of the most terrible diseases you can get. Symptoms include paranoia, terror and hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water) and delirium. Once the symptoms appear, death is almost certain.
But once I’ve had my final booster, those rabid little critters can chew on me all they like.