So far in the month of February, at least six children have perished to rabies in Amazonas region of Peru according to the Ministry of Health. The children range in age from 1 to 14 years of age and all were bitten by vampire bats.
The children are from the native communities of San Ramon and Yupicusa in the Bagua province which borders Ecuador.
According to Dr Peter Quintanilla, director of health of Chachapoyas,” We have reports of 6 dead children due to an outbreak of sylvatic rabies in the region.”
One of the problems health officials there are having is many of the indigenous peoples affected are seeking the care of folk healers, blaming the rabies on witchcraft, instead of seeking vaccination.
The Ministry of Health has sent workers to administer rabies vaccinations to these remote populations which can take 15 hours on rivers through the rainforests.
Many of the indigenous peoples in these remote villages live in dwelling that are relatively open, making it easy for vampire bats to feed on people when they sleep when preferred food sources are unavailable. The preferred hosts for blood meals are cattle and horses.