Published Date: 2012-05-25 11:36:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Rabies - Peru (02): (CS), vampire bat, human
Archive Number: 20120525.1144114
RABIES - PERU (02): (CUSCO), VAMPIRE BAT, HUMAN
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Wed 23 May 2012
Source: El Comercio [in Spanish, trans. Mod.TY, edited]
The Coordinator of the National Health Strategy for Zoonoses of the Ministry of Health, Ana Maria Navarro, stated yesterday [22 May 2012] that the deaths of the 7 Machiguengas [indigenous] children from Camana, located in the La Convencion province, Cusco region, was due to rabies. However, residents and the Cusco congressional representative, Ruben de La Torre, stated the investigations must continue, because it is strange that the deaths occurred after an escape of natural gas in the area.
Navarro said that this past Sunday [20 May 2012] the 7th girl from Camana died who had suffered -- similar to the other 6 -- [vampire] bat bites. "Based on symptoms and the reports by the team that went to Camana, we conclude that the 7 children died of rabies," she said.
The specialist added that these were the only rabies cases reported in the area.
However, the congressional representative of Gana Peru, Ruben de La Torre, commented that there are 16 adults who presented with the same symptoms. Because of this, he asked the congress to form a health commission to go to the area and evaluate well this situation. "It is strange that these cases presented after a natural gas escape, which occurred in March  in the area. The people were eating fish from the rivers," he said. The brother of one of the 7 dead children agreed.
[Sources consulted from the National Institute of Health of Peru communicated that the cause of the deaths cited [above] was rabies virus infection, according to the tests done with the biological samples evaluated. It is unwise, to say the least, to blame other kinds of situations for the reported deaths, but, to a certain point, that is understandable. Currently in Peru, there is a sort of sensitivity against the exploitation of mineral resources, petroleum, and gas by foreign companies, citing environmental reasons. However, illegal mining, so-called "informal" [mining], is favored, which is really harmful both for biodiversity and for the population because of the enormous contamination and damage of the environment that it causes. This situation is fertile for politicians seeking to take advantage of this situation presenting themselves as supposed champions for the welfare of the population, gaining support from disadvantaged and less educated people. - Mod.JG]
[Since laboratory tests were positive, the rabies diagnosis is reliable and other factors can be discarded. There have been other vampire bat-transmitted rabies virus deaths in Amazonian Peru in this and recent years, so this outbreak is not surprising. A 12 year old girl from the Ayacucho general area was diagnosed with rabies this month (May 2012) (see ProMED-mail archive no. 20120512.1131075). The common vampire bat, _Desmodus rotundus_ was no doubt the bat responsible for these transmissions.
An image of _Desmodus rotundus_ can be accessed at http://www.animalpicturesarchive.com/WebImg/335/1208760244-t.jpg.
A HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map showing the location of the Cusco region can be accessed at http://healthmap.org/r/2rCL. - Mod.TY]