Defining New Pathways to Manage the Ongoing Emergence of Bat Rabies in Latin America

Julio A. Benavides, William Valderrama, Sergio Recuenco, Wilson Uieda, Gerardo Suzán, Rafael Avila-Flores, Andres Velasco-Villa, Marilene Almeida, Fernanda A.G. de Andrade, Baldomero Molina-Flores, Marco Antonio Natal Vigilato, Julio Cesar Augusto Pompei, Paolo Tizzani, Jorge E. Carrera, Darcy Ibanez, Daniel G. Streicker

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific reviewpeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Rabies transmitted by common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) has been known since the early 1900s but continues to expand geographically and in the range of species and environments affected. In this review, we present current knowledge of the epidemiology and management of rabies in D. rotundus and argue that it can be reasonably considered an emerging public health threat. We identify knowledge gaps related to the landscape determinants of the bat reservoir, reduction in bites on humans and livestock, and social barriers to prevention. We discuss how new technologies including autonomously-spreading vaccines and reproductive suppressants targeting bats might manage both rabies and undesirable growth of D. rotundus populations. Finally, we highlight widespread under-reporting of human and animal mortality and the scarcity of studies that quantify the efficacy of control measures such as bat culling. Collaborations between researchers and managers will be crucial to implement the next generation of rabies management in Latin America.
Original languageAmerican English
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • Control measures
  • Cross-species transmission
  • Public health
  • Rabies lyssavirus
  • Zoonotic disease


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