- From the Tractatus De Venemis -
It was in the month of Ramadhan in the year 595 that His Highness addressed me, Moses, his humble servant and said: "It occurred to me yesterday that someone might be bitten by a poisonous animal and the poison would spread throughout his body. . . and he would die . . . therefore, I order you, Ibin Musa, to write a short and concise manual of first aid for the bitten person." So, in compliance with the command and wish of your highness, I set out to write the following treatise and entitled it
"Treatise to the Honored One!
someone is bitten, immediate care should be taken to tie the spot above
the wound as fast as possible to prevent the poison from spreading throughout
the body; in the meantime, another person should make cuts with a black
lancet directly above the wound, suck vigorously with his mouth and spit
out. Before doing that, it is advisable to disinfect the mouth with olive
oil or with spirit in oil. . . . Care should be taken that the sucking
person has no wound in his mouth or rotten teeth . . . should there be
no man available to do the sucking, cupping-glasses should be applied,
with or without fire; the heated ones have a much better effect because
they combine the advantages of sucking and cauterizing at the same time.
. . . Then apply the great theriac.
An old well
informed doctor told me that he saw a spinning factory (weaver) boy who was bitten
by a dog; it was not apparent at the time that the bite was from a mad dog and so
pronounced the dog healthy and allowed the wound to close after a month or so. The boy recovered and, for a long time, did his job just like any other healthy person. But finally he became fearful and died . . . I learned that one should leave the site of the bite open and not close it under any circumstances before 40 days have elapsed..... When in doubt if a dog is rabid or not, proceed as if the dog was mad.. ( trans Rosner,Munter & mine) (ref)
Moses Maimonides was the most famous medieval physician. His 10 medical works emphasized preventive medicine and the need to treatment the whole of the ill patient. He was a devoutly religious, but not a superstitious, man - one of the greatest physicians, philosophers, theologians and astronomers of all time.
“From [the biblical]
Moses to Moses [Maimonides]
there never arose a man
like Moses,” and none has since (Rosner, 1965).