Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Bats and their role in human rabies epidemiology in the Americas

Dantas-Torres, F.

Bats are very interesting animals: they are the unique flying mammals, have developed a highly sophisticated echolocation system, and have become specialized to eat different types of diets. Hematophagous (vampire) bats are those specialized to feed solely on blood and have served as a source of inspiration for researchers as well as for writers. Vampire bat attacks on humans have moved from the realm of science fiction to reality in Latin America and bats (including non-hematophagous ones) have assumed an important role in the transmission of rabies virus to humans. This article discusses the emerging role of bats as rabies virus transmitters, with particular emphasis on the role of hematophagous bats in the epidemiology of human rabies in Latin America. Possible reasons associated with the increasing risk of exposure to bats in this region are also discussed.

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