Monday, August 11, 2008

Avoid those vampire bats ...

... they can cause rabies. Well, only vampire bats which have the disease, and certainly not all of them do.
At least 38 Warao Indians have died in remote villages in Venezuela, and medical experts suspect an outbreak of rabies spread by bites from vampire bats.
Rabies is caused by the Rabies virus, a single stranded RNA (ssRNA) virus, from the family Rhabdoviridae. It is typically transferred via bite, since the virus is present in saliva. Symptoms start as flu-like, but then progress into the neurological. Partial paralysis, anxiety, insomnia, abnormal behavior, paranoia, hallucinations, delirium ... all eventually leading to (most often) death within two to ten days after the symptoms start. All in all, infection typically ranges from between two to twelve weeks.

So, what about the foaming-at-the-mouth symptoms? It's known as "hydrophobia". The throat and jaw slowly become paralyzed in rabid animals. The foam is a build-up of saliva which hasn't been swallowed for hours, possibly days. It's not a pretty disease.

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