Human rabies case

A 37-year-old farmer in a rural area of Ceará state, Brazil has contracted rabies from a vampire bat, according to a UOL Noticias Ciencia e Saude report (computer translated).

Public domain Image/
Public domain Image/

The man was bitten in his sleep in mid-September, according to health officials. The patient did not seek medical attention until exhibiting symptoms a month later.

He was admitted to the hospital and given human anti-rabies serum.

The report does not say if he survived; however, since his symptoms started, his chances of survival are small.

Vampire bats feeding on  feral pigs

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment reveals that vampire bats have a taste for feral pig blood.

The study points out environmental changes that resulted in the phenomenon:

The population density of the vampire bat, D. rotundus is usually high in areas with domestic animals, especially cattle. Land-use change converted the area’s natural ecosystems into pasture for livestock, which may have boosted vampire bat populations due to food abundance. However, conversion of pasture into sugar cane agriculture in most of southeastern Brazil during the past few decades and the severe defaunation of the Atlantic Forest may have forced the bats to switch from the formerly abundant cattle to an alternative food source – feral pigs.

The fear is that this will result in increases in human rabies.

The study authors continue:

The common vampire bat is a major reservoir of rabies virus and is well known for spreading this deadly disease to several mammals upon which it feeds. The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of infected bats, and exposure to saliva through small wounds or scratches may occasionally result in rabies infection. Bushmeat hunters are exposed to saliva and other bodily fluids from their kills when they cut up the carcasses. Rabies-infected feral pigs may also occasionally bite hunters, their dogs, or even other predators of pigs. There is therefore a danger of the virus being transmitted to hunters and dogs via feral pigs.

LISTEN: Rabies: A comprehensive interview with Pamela Wilson