Rabid Vampire Bats Bite 500 People In Peru

Vampire bats infected with rabies have attacked more than 500 people in Peru – sparking an outbreak of the disease that has apparently killed four children.

The flying mammals, which bite then lick the blood of their victims, swooped on villagers in the northeastern Urakusa region, where the Aguajun tribe lives.

Peruvian health ministry official Jose Bustamente said four children are thought to have died from rabies as a result.

He said medical supplies and vaccines to treat those infected have been sent to the tribe.

Rabies, a virus that causes acute inflammation of the brain, is usually spread to humans by dog bites.

It has an incubation period that can last several months.

Health teams are looking for people in communities within six miles of the jungle outbreak who have been attacked by bats in the past six months.

Mr Bustamente said 97% of the 508 people who were bitten have begun receiving an anti-rabies vaccination.

It is expected that the rest – some of whom have rejected treatment – will be vaccinated in the next few days.