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Ecology

Bat culls do not stop spread of rabies

Nature volume 486, page 296 (21 June 2012) | Download Citation

Culling adult vampire bats might not be an effective means of reducing outbreaks of rabies in humans and livestock.

Daniel Streicker at the University of Georgia in Athens and his colleagues tested common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus; pictured) sampled from 20 colonies across Peru between 2007 and 2010 for exposure to the rabies virus. Exposure prevalence ranged from 3% to 28% and was highest in immature bats. Culling during the test period did not reduce the probability of exposure to rabies.

Adult bats might be developing immunity to rabies after repeated exposure to the virus, the authors suggest, so culling could increase virus transmission in part because it targets immune adults and leaves behind young bats that are more likely to carry and to transmit the disease.

Image: G. ZIESLER/GETTY

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https://doi.org/10.1038/486296a

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