Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Bat attacks on humans increasing due to urbanisation and deforestation

'Diseases in bats have been around for a long time and historically have not been a problem. 
Now, there is cause for concern,' expert says

Michael East 

Bats have been attacking humans in increasing numbers because their natural habitats are being destroyed through deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, scientists have found.

In the last three months alone, vampire bats have bitten over 40 residents in the country’s north-eastern region, one of whom has died.

The wave of night-time attacks has caused blood-soaked beds and inflicted deep wounds on victims, many of whom are being treated for possible rabies exposure. 

 “Diseases in bats have been around for a long time and historically have not been a problem. Now, there is cause for concern as cities expand displacing bats creating increased contact with humans,” Dr Julian Drewe from the Royal Veterinary College told The Independent.

“In light of the Brazil attacks, the authorities are trying to control the bats, poisoning them and removing their roosting sites. However, this is likely to displace the bats to another area rather than solve the problem.”

He explained that the location of bites determined how fast rabies occured.

“If you are bitten on your toe, it takes a longer time for you to succumb to the disease than if you are bitten on the head," Dr Drewe said.

"This is because the virus has further to travel to reach the brain.”

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