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First U.S. Human Death From Rabid Vampire Bat Attack August 19, 2011
Vampire bat
The CDC warns that rabid vampire bats may be spreading northward from Latin America toward the southern U.S. due to climate change.
The first documented fatality in the United States from rabies linked to a vampire bat attack was revealed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The victim was a 19-year-old migrant worker who was bitten on the heel in his native Mexican state of Michoacan last summer.

In the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality weekly report, it said the man was later hospitalized after falling ill while working at a sugar cane plantation in Louisiana.

“During the next several days, the patient became gradually less responsive to external stimuli, developed fixed and dilated pupils, and began having episodes of bradycardia (slow heartbeat) and hypothermia,” the CDC said.

The young man died shortly after his family ordered him taken off life support. 

While the range of the vampire bats is currently limited to Latin America, the CDC warned that it might be expanding toward the United States due to climate change.

This “likely would lead to increased bat exposures to both humans and animals (including domestic livestock and wildlife species) and substantially alter rabies virus dynamics and ecology in the southern United States,” the CDC warns.

The strain of rabies that killed the young man is especially virulent, with an incubation period of just 15 days, compared to the median 85 days in other U.S. cases of human rabies.

Photo: File