Vampire Bats Started Feeding on Humans

The bats have switched to humans after a drop in availability of their usual prey, birds

A bat caught in a net will be analysed for research. A species of vampire bats in Brazil has been found to be feeding on humans

Wild vampire bats have been found feeding on humans in Brazil for the first time – and they could be spreading disease.

Researchers from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, led by Enrico Bernard, analysed 70 faeces samples from a colony of vampire bats, named Diphylla ecudata, that reside in Catimbau National Park in northeast Brazil.

The team extracted DNA from 15 of the samples and discovered three of them had traces of blood from humans. The research was published in the journal Acta Chiropterologica.

Previously, these hairy-legged bats were thought to exclusively feed on birds – in particular, guans and tinamous. This is because the creatures are adapted to process fat, the main component of bird blood, instead of the thicker, high-protein blood found in mammals, like humans.

However, it is suspected that human intrusion of the area where the bats live is causing them to feast on humans instead. Catimbau National Park, where the bats reside, is now home to more human families, which is causing the bat’s usual prey to disappear thanks to deforestation and hunting.

The bats were also found to be adapting to a different source of food – chickens being kept on farms in the area. When speaking to the New Scientist about this dietary change, Bernard said: “They are adapting to their environment and exploiting the new resources.”

That isn’t where the interaction ends, however. Bats are known to be a major transmitter of rabies. UK bats have been found to carry a rabies-type virus called <a href="http://www.bats.org generic viagra 100mg.uk/pages/bats_and_disease_faqs.html#Ebola”>European Bat Lyssavirus (EBLV) that can be transmitted to humans, and three species of fruit bat native to Africa have been found to carry the Ebola virus. There are concerns that if the bats continue to use humans as a food source, they could also be spreading diseases at the same time.

Bernard and his team plan to now study the bats and their victims further in order to assess the health risk the animals could pose. They will visit the homes of the residents to find out when they are being bitten and how, but they suspect the bats are entering people’s bedrooms through holes in roofs or windows.

Via: wired

1 comment to Vampire Bats Started Feeding on Humans

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  

  

  

sharethis_button(); }?>