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Transmission dynamics of rabies among vampire bats

J. C. Blackwood, D. G. Streicker, S. Altizer, P. Rohani

VAMPIRE bat (Desmodus rotundus)-transmitted rabies virus (VBRV) is a significant zoonose that affects the health of both livestock and people in Latin America. Contact between vampire bats and livestock is increasing as the industry expands, and outbreaks of rabies among people are increasingly being recognised in remote areas of the Amazon rainforest. The standard control strategies include indiscriminate culling and use of a topical poison that affects conspecifics that groom poisoned bats. Despite these control methods, VBRV has not been eradicated in the region. This study aimed to assess the transmission dynamics and determinants of viral persistence in vampire bat colonies.

The researchers sampled vampire bats between 2007 and 2010 from 17 colonies in Peru. A total of 1436 bats were captured over the study period. Blood samples were taken and examined. The data from this study were then analysed using mechanistic mathematical models, which were used to predict the most likely transmission scenario.

The models indicated that, of the four transmission models explored, the most likely was that …

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