Vampire Bat Revenge

Latin America has been dealing with vampire bats for years. They’re the number one cause of human rabies. You might be thinking, “That sucks, who cares?” while safely reading this in San Francisco, Paris, somewhere in Sweden, but these bats are mutating and they’re pissed off. Well, they’re starting to fly up to North America due to climate change. The US reported it’s first death by bat in 2011 and they have developed some protein that has helps them detect the best place to bite you.

How did these super bats get so fucked? As usual, when wildlife starts to go crazy humans are usually to blame and it’s looking like we blew it once again. It’s not known how many deaths are caused in Latin America by vampire bats, but it’s dozens yearly and they destroy over $30 million dollars worth of livestock annually as well. Since livestock is a huge part of their economy, as the numbers of animals grow so does the bat population. The solution seemed obvious; kill the fuck out of these blood-sucking bats. Unfortunately, scientists believe that was the opposite of what should have happened.

Because the rabies virus doesn’t spread like the common cold does on a crowded subway, you’d assume that the exposure rates between small and large bat communities would be similar. Once they started actually analyzing the data they started finding something disturbing. The more they killed the bats higher the percentage of rabies among the survivors…whoops!

The cause might be linked to how they are actually killing off the bats. Once captured, the bats are covered with an anticoagulant paste and then released. The bats, covered in this poisonous goo, go back to wherever the fuck bats hang out and are groomed by other adult bats that then get sick and die. Many of these adult bats are immune to rabies, and there’s some evidence that bats exposed to rabies can develop immunity to it. When you kill off infected adults, you’re mainly left with infants who don’t yet have any immunity and also don’t clean adult bats. Now you have a ton of baby bats ripe to acquire full-blown rabies and are ready to go bite stuff.

Some scientists the think solution to the bat problem is to vaccinate animals and people instead of sending off sticky disease coated bats off to kill their friends. New evidence shows that might not be a fantastic idea either. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control did some hardcore studies in Peru and found that many people in the Amazon what had regular exposure to vampire bats had naturally built up antibodies much like the adult bats had.

As the debate on how to control rabid bats continues, the main cause of the problem continues to rise. Livestock is precious to many farmers in Peru, where bat related deaths are high, it’s a way to avoid poverty and providel. Meanwhile heatseeking rabid bats are getting better at biting that currency and regular ass people too, and probably because we drew first blood.