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A vampire bat is caught in a net in Aracy, in the northeast Amazon state of Para, Brazil, in 2005.
Peru

4 killed in vampire bat attacks

Peruvian village attacked by colony of rabid bats.

OVER 500 PEOPLE have been attacked by a colony of rabid vampire bats in Peru’s Amazon. At least  four children died as a result of contracting rabies in the attacks.

Medial supplies have been sent to the village of Urakusa, in the north-east of Peru, to the Aguajun tribe. Peru’s government has dispatched emergency teams to battle the rabies outbreak.

Vampire bats feed on the blood of mammals while they sleep, but generally feed on livestock and wildlife. Experts have suggested that deforestation of the bats’ natural habitat has forced them to turn to humans for food.

Last year, National Geographic reported that the bats were increasingly biting people and have caused rabies outbreaks in Peru before.

This extract from a National Geographic documentary shows the bats feeding on a sleeping pig (not for the faint-hearted):

Rabies, according to the World Health Organisation, kills more than 55,000 people each year. The first symptoms of infection include fever, fatigue and headaches. The illness then spreads to the respiratory system and the nervous system. Death occurs within seven days without medical treatment.