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Not Twilight! Vampire Bats Develop a Taste for Pigs, Possible Health Threat to Humans

Nov 07, 2016 04:18 AM EST
Vampire bat
Vampire bats have a penchant for the blood of wild pigs and it could have disastrous effects throughout Brazil. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
(Photo : General Photographic Agency / Stringer)

Vampire bats have a penchant for the blood of wild pigs and it could have disastrous effects throughout Brazil.

According to a report from Washington Post, a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment explained that vampire pigs are enjoying the taste of pigs in Brazil. This development could spell a problem for the country's human population as scientists are concerned that as the pig population increases, the feeding vampire bat population could increase along with it and, as a result, increase the spread of rabies in humans.

"Vampire bats...carry infectious disease, a lot of infectious diseases," Sao Paolo State University Ph.D. student and one of the new paper's authors Felipe Pedrosa said. "And one of these diseases is rabies."

Vampire bats can be just as ruthless in choosing their prey, from livestock to wild animals and even humans. Back in 2005, there was a series of vampire bat attacks on Brazilians that included 23 deaths and 1,300 rabies-related medical incidents. The attacks in humans usually occurred at nighttime as people are sleeping. Children, who are less likely to wake up during a bat attack, are most susceptible to the bites.

Farmers often vaccinate livestock against rabies, but wild pigs can also carry the disease and can spread the disease quite easily.

The researchers also explained in the paper that vampire bats also feed on other wild prey such as tapirs and deer. There are also suggestions that the bats' penchant for wild pigs go beyond opportunity - it's likely the bats were actually actively seeking out this specie.

Wild pigs have already been wreaking havoc in Brazil by uprooting plants, damaging the soil quality, destroying crops and even attacking livestock, but this new development is alarming. Aside from possibly causing the rise in vampire bat population, the wild pigs could spread rabies directly through direct contact with humans, particularly hunters and their dogs.

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