14 Aug 2010

Medical teams sent to fight rabies in Amazon

6:20 am on 14 August 2010

Emergency health teams have been sent to a remote region in Peru to battle an outbreak of rabies spread by vampire bats.

Four children have died after being bitten by the bloodsucking mammals.

Health workers have given rabies vaccine to more than 500 people who have also been attacked.

The outbreak is focused on the community of Urakusa in the north-eastern Peruvian Amazon region, close to the border with Ecuador.

The health ministry said most of the affected population had now been vaccinated, although a few had refused treatment.

The BBC reports vampire bats usually feed on wildlife or livestock, but are sometimes known to turn to humans for food, particularly in areas where their rainforest habitat has been destroyed.