"One other thing. Never drink the water out here without boiling it." the old scavenger added, waving a hand over the bogs and hills. "You'll get rabies, and I don't like accepting payment from somebody who's trying to eat me."

"Rabies? I thought that was spread by bites?"

"Meh. You could ask the dwarves under those hills. Oh wait, they're all dead," the scavenger growled and spat.

So, the dwarven cities in this part of my world have been officially abandoned since rabies started mutating about seventy/eighty years before the story starts. The long and short of it is that rabies is now waterborne, and can potentially spread.

I'm assuming (like the old man up above) that boiling water will provide safe drinking water. However, how does this affect the following forms of agriculture?

  • Crop-growing
  • Livestock
  • Fishing (fish farms, or sea fish if it leaks into the sea)
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Sounds more like zombies. Oops, I just broke the unspoken rule never say zombies in a zombie book. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Feb 25 '16 at 14:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Only drink beer, it's the safest way. (Also historically accurate for some groups) $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Feb 25 '16 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @user16295 like the dwarves (and anyone else) need an excuse to drink? $\endgroup$ – Philip Rowlands Feb 25 '16 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ Not enough for a full answer, but couldn't they simply just add the tetanus vaccine to the water source as well. $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Feb 25 '16 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ @TrEs-2b did you mean the rabies vaccine? $\endgroup$ – Philip Rowlands Feb 26 '16 at 11:35

Just because something is in the water does not mean that the plants absorbing said water will become carriers of that disease.

Moreover, if rabies were able to spread that easily humanity would be screwed.

Even its presence in water basically amounts to that area having to be abandoned - after all, you can't always boil your water, and you need to do a lot of things with unboiled water, such as washing your clothes, fishing in it, etc.

If every time someone came in contact with water they risked getting rabies they would get the heck outta there - pronto.

Furthermore, if rabies are that easily transmitted, I think there's a fair chance that farm animals would succumb to the virus as well - maybe not immediately, but in time, as the virus mutates again, and again.

You can't boil drinking water for all your animals. You just can't. It would be an insane amount of work, and it would cost a fortune.

Your answer, basically, is that people would run for the hills. Or even further.

  • $\begingroup$ or they would all just...you know...die. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 25 '16 at 16:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Run for the hills? Didn't you hear what happened to the dwarves there!? $\endgroup$ – Polyducks Feb 25 '16 at 16:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Polyducks - the metaphorical hills. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Feb 25 '16 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ I've decided to drop this idea, mainly because the area this is set in has a lot of bogs and lakes. $\endgroup$ – Philip Rowlands Mar 16 '16 at 11:53

This isn't actually as bad as it seems.

Assuming you get enough rain-fall then you make sure you fence your livestock away from the water. Anything that does get exposed to it should be quarantined and destroyed at the first sign of infection.

All livestock drinking water comes from plants (which can't carry the virus) and from rain-capture. Making little dams, water butts, etc to capture rain water will provide plenty to supply both human drinking water and water for the livestock.

For travelling expect bridges with solid walls and a sort of "funnel" of fences leading up to the bridge so you can be sure to drive livestock across without it accessing the water.


The first good news is that rabies is a virus for mammals only. Fish won't get it. I'd also expect salt water to be safe.

Farming for animals is only going to be done in the high hills around fast moving water. Nobody is going to risk having someone else farming higher up the water course or let domesticated animals drink slow moving water. Fences are going to be good and tight, wild mammals will be shot on sight if they approach a farm.

Islands can be quarantined off from the mainland and made safe (Britain was declared rabies-free in 1922 after the introduction of compulsory quarantine for dogs).

Crops should be safe, the virus won't propagate in plant cells.


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