Rabies outbreak near Buenos Aires blamed on vampire bats

Animal health officials report an outbreak of  bovine paralytic rabies at Potrero Grande de Buenos Aires. So far one cow has died, but the virus infection is slow to show symptoms, so more cattle might be infected. There are nearly 200 cows on the same ranch.

The virus is carried by vampire bats who feed on the blood of cattle. The Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal  said that efforts are under way in the area to reduce the population of bats.

The government also is providing vaccinations for persons who might have come in contact with the cow. The virus is spread by saliva, and humans can contract it. Infected cow with the paralytic form of the disease are not likely to attack. But there is a second form that makes cows aggressive.

The animal health officials suggested vaccinations for household pets, and, of course, a program of vaccination for cattle. Modern vaccines are 100 percent effective against the virus, cattle experts say.

During an outbreak in the 1960s when a vaccine was not available. Costa Rican cattle ranchers lost 10,000 head, according to statistics from the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization.vampirebat060415

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