In the U.S., the first known fatality from the bite of a bat


15/08/2011

The Centre and the Office of Disease Prevention reported this week, the first fatality in the United States from the bite of bloodsucking bat. These data strongly excited population is interesting because if they are then at risk of danger.

Experts respond that in fact no danger or anyone for two simple reasons. First of all, a young man 19 years old, in fact, was not bitten in the U.S. and in Michoacan, one of the states of Mexico, and died a few weeks later during a trip to Louisiana. In addition, he died as such do not bite, but from the rabies virus, which has been infected by a bat.

This is the main difference, as explained by Gerald Carter (Gerald Carter), a PhD in biology from the University of Maryland and an expert in the behavior of blood-sucking bats.

First of all, it should be noted that this type of bat not live in the U.S.. They are found only in Central and South America - from central Mexico to Brazil - where they parasitize cattle and horses, according to Carter. Some researchers suspect that global warming and climate change could increase the habitat of blood-sucking bats to the United States. But to date, however, there is still no clear evidence of this fact.

"In the United States, the only known incident of blood-sucking bats" - Carter said. "And it was not even the kind that eats only the blood of birds. In the United States have never been found populations of blood-sucking bats."

Another reason that it is not necessary to worry about, is that blood-sucking bats - relatively rarely bite humans. "In most cases, these kinds of bats prey on large animals, such as cattle and horses. Usually bats bite people when they are sleeping in the open or are about cattle" - Carter said. "Sam is a small bite wound, often located at the toe, people usually do not immediately reveal the wound. Bat from the body takes only a tablespoon of blood, but the wound can bleed for a long time, since the animal’s saliva contains a substance that prevents blood clotting . "

By itself, the bite is not dangerous and does not bring any harm to man, but Carter noted that the bite, like any animal bite should be examined by a doctor and the patient must be vaccinated against rabies. Treatment of any type of rabies is usually a quick and easy procedure in the United States and therefore deaths from rabies are very rare - only two or three cases a year.

"The rabies virus from the blood-sucking bats should not be considered a public health problem in the United States, but it is a cause for concern for residents of Latin American countries" - said Carter. This happens mostly because of limited access to vaccination against rabies, which can not be received in time victims. However, even in these countries, such incidents occur only a few times a year.

"Statistically, in the United States, it is not a health issue," - said Carter. "In Latin America, it is a more acute problem, since several cases of bites per year is considered ’explosion’ of the epidemic."

Carter also noted, not without sadness that the stories about the blood-sucking bats transmit rabies to people, cause their hostility to the animals. So, people are beginning to fear led massively exterminate bats. But, in practice, more people die, usually because of diseases transmitted by insects, according to Carter. But oddly enough it was the bats are the primary predators, preying on dangerous insects.

Original: LiveScience Translation: M. Potter


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