38 dead after being bitten by vampire bats

By | August 12, 2008

At least 38 Warao Indians have died in remote villages in Venezuela, and medical experts suspect an outbreak of rabies spread by bites from vampire bats.

Laboratory investigations have yet to confirm the cause, but the symptoms point to rabies, according to two researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and other medical experts.

The two UC Berkeley researchers — the husband-and-wife team of anthropologist Charles Briggs and public health specialist Dr. Clara Mantini-Briggs — said the symptoms include fever, body pains, tingling in the feet followed by progressive paralysis, and an extreme fear of water. Victims tend to have convulsions and grow rigid before death.

Dr. Charles Rupprecht, chief of the rabies program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, agreed with their preliminary diagnosis.

“The history and clinical signs are compatible with rabies,” Rupprecht told The Associated Press on Friday. “Prevention is straightforward: Prevent bites and vaccinate those at risk of bites.”

…  when their roosts are disrupted or their normal prey grow scarce, “Homo sapiens is a pretty easy meal.” – cnn

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