Our first record of rabies, the infamous foaming madness disease, dated all the way back to 2000 BC. The foaming at the mouth and excessive aggression are among the most recognizable symptoms of rabies, but the whole list of symptoms is pretty damning:
- Brain inflammation, resulting in paralysis, insomnia, paranoia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior and even hallucinations
- Fear of water (hence its more popular terminology, "hydrophobia")
Like the bubonic plague, you can get rabies if you get bitten by an animal. This illness has been shown numerous times on visual media, being the main conflict of the 1983 horror film Cujo as well as a source of inspiration in the latest episode of Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal titled "Plague of Madness" (though the infected sauropod that was the villain of that episode doesn't display the hydrophobia that rabies is known to be.)
In an alternate history scenario, the "Black Death" that terrorized Europe from 1347 to 1350 didn't come from the bacterium Yersinia pestis, as is the case in our timeline, but the rabies virus. Using as much knowledge as we have of both diseases, would a medieval rabies plague still wipe out half of the European population in three short years, or would it have a different rate and scale of virulence to bubonic plague?