posted on Apr, 3 2004 @ 09:26 AM
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - Rabies-carrying vampire bats killed at least 13 people in a remote Amazon town in Brazil's northern state of Para
last month, authorities said on Friday.
The state health care department said the thumb-sized creatures had attacked about 300 people -- an unusually high number -- since March 2 in the
riverside Portel area, next to the world's biggest estuarine archipelago of Marajo.
"All the deceased had a history of recent bat attacks and six of them had confirmed human rabies from bat bites," a department spokeswoman said.
Other bite victims received vaccines and other anti-rabies treatment after March 19, when authorities became aware of the problem.
The spokeswoman said government scientists suspect the attacks are linked to a change in the bats' migration pattern caused by deforestation.
"There is no guarantee that we won't have more cases," she added.
The most recent death occurred last weekend.
Vampire bats normally feed on the blood of large birds and sleeping cattle, lapping it from cuts they make with their teeth. They often transmit
rabies to cattle.
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