Vampire Bats Kill 38 in Venezuela
This one freaked me out when I read it. Venezuelan villagers have been dying from vampire bat bites. The symptoms point to rabies. Health officials are planning to bring mosquito nets to the villages in hopes of preventing further infections.
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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, agreed with their preliminary diagnosis.
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.
At least 38 Warao Indians have died since June 2007, and at least 16 have died in the past two months, according to a report the Berkeley researchers and indigenous leaders provided to Venezuelan officials this week.
One village, Mukuboina, lost eight of its roughly 80 inhabitants -- all of them children, Briggs said. All victims throughout the area died within two to seven days from the onset of symptoms, he said.
During a study trip Briggs and Mantini-Briggs made through 30 villages in the river delta, relatives said the victims had been bitten by bats. The couple have worked among the Warao in Delta Amacuro state for years and were invited by indigenous leaders to study the outbreak.
"It's a monster illness," said Tirso Gomez, a Warao traditional healer who said the indigenous group of more than 35,000 people has never experienced anything similar.