Monday, 29 July 2013

Are bites from vampire bats making people resistant to rabies?

Rabies is virtually non-existent in North America, but it's still a blight in many parts of the world, including South America. The disease, which is commonly transmitted by bats, is almost always fatal. But a recent study conducted in Peru is suggesting that native people there may have developed an immunity to the virus by getting bitten by vampire bats. If true, the discovery could have serious implications to the development of vaccines — and even a cure.

News of this study comes to us from Marissa Fessenden of Scientific American. She describes how the vampire bats, who bite humans while they're sleeping, may have passed along small amounts of the virus over time. Similar to how a person can develop an immunity to snake venom, the low-dose exposures may have induced the rise of natural anti-bodies in the Peruvians.

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