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Author Topic: 38 People in Venezuela Die After Being Bitten by Vampire Bats  (Read 1058 times)
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WhiskeyGirl
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« on: August 11, 2008, 09:25:29 AM »

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38 People in Venezuela Die After Being Bitten by Vampire Bats

Saturday, August 09, 2008

CARACAS, Venezuela    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 U.S. 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."

Venezuelan health officials are investigating the outbreak and plan to distribute mosquito nets to prevent bat bites and send a medical boat to provide treatment in remote villages on the Orinoco River delta, Indigenous Peoples Minister Nicia Maldonado told the state-run Bolivarian News Agency on Thursday.

Outbreaks of rabies spread by vampire bats are a problem in various tropical areas of South America, including Brazil and Peru, Rupprecht said.

He said researchers suspect that in some cases environmental degradation including mining, logging or dam construction projects may also be contributing to rabies outbreaks.

"Vampire bats are very adaptable," Rupprecht said. And when their roosts are disrupted or their normal prey grow scarce, "Homo sapiens is a pretty easy meal."

 


read more here -
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,400901,00.html
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