Rabid Vampire Bats

Vampire bats are bats whose food source is blood, a dietary trait called hematophagy. The very concept because of how humans perceive blood sucking varmints creates an image of horror. Only 0.5% of bats carry rabies. However, of the few cases of rabies reported in the United States every year, most are caused by bat bites. However, no vampire bat species are known to live in the United States. The highest occurrence of rabies in vampire bats occurs in the large populations found in South America. A new study of rabies in vampire bats in Peru has found that culling bats—a common rabies control strategy—does not reduce rates of rabies exposure in bat colonies, and may even be counterproductive. The findings may eventually help public health and agriculture officials in Peru develop more effective methods for preventing rabies infections in humans and livestock, according to a team of scientists from the United States and Peru led by Daniel Streicker, a postdoctoral associate at the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology.

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