Back with the Vampires in Peru

Published on: Author: the CVR science blog editors

Happy Halloween from all at the CVR!

About this time last year in 2016 we made an episode of Contagious Thinking (which I encourage you all to have a listen to/see link at the end) about vampire bats and the deadly rabies virus that they can carry and spread across Latin America.

Vampire bats can carry the rabies virus and pass it to a person or a farm animal such as a cow when they bite to feed on their blood. If bitten by a rabid bat the infected animal will probably die.

Here we talked with Dr Daniel Streicker (a research Fellow who works between the CVR and the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine in Glasgow) and Julio Benavides, a postdoc in his lab about their recent studies on tracking and predicting how and when vampire bat rabies will move through Peru, from the Amazon in the East to the Pacific Ocean to the West.

One point raised in this episode was: what use is a prediction if you don’t act on it?


In this latest seasonly-inspired, follow-up episode of the CVR’s podcast, Andrew Shaw and Connor Bamford, both postdocs, return to darkest Peru and catch up with Daniel again along with Kevin Bakker, a new postdoc in his group about using a vaccine against rabies, for wild vampire bats.

We discuss why you need a vaccine, how would you vaccinate wild bats, and how do you make sure you’re doing it in the most effective way possible. A vaccine has been used to combat rabies in pet dogs and in wild foxes. Vaccinating wild bats might sound impossible at first but you can rub a vaccine into an individual’s fur and it will be groomed off and spread when the bat returns to roost. Daniel’s team are currently doing field experiments and computer modelling to see what the best way to do this is: for example, how many bats should I rub vaccine on?

You can find Daniel and Julio’s previous episode: User-28288327 – Rabies-riding-the-wave-to-the-pacific-coast or our blog post…acific-coast/

Streicker lab pager: or Glasgow website…f/danielstreicker/