Jungle Dwellers’ Anti-Rabies Blood Stuns Researchers


Credit: Bat photo via Shutterstock

Jungle Dwellers’ Anti-Rabies Blood Stuns Researchers

Some people living inِ a remote part ofِ the Amazon jungle produce antibodies againstِ the rabies virus, according toِ a newِ study.
Protection againstِ the highly deadly disease wasِ previously thought toِ beِ impossible withoutِ vaccination.
Researchers tookِ blood samples fromِ 63 people inِ Peru, andِ seven ofِ them wereِ foundِ to haveِ antibodies thatِ couldِ fight a rabies infection.

Amazon vampire bats and rabies

That area inِ Peru isِ home toِ infected vampire bats, whoseِ teeth areِ so sharp andِ bites areِ so small thatِ a person couldِ beِ bitten andِ not realize it, saidِ study author Charles Rupprecht ofِ the CDC.
The researchers hypothesized thatِ someِ people developed immunity byِ receiving tiny amounts ofِ the rabies virus fromِ bat bites, neverِ becomingِ so severely infected thatِ their central nervous systems wereِ affected.
Bruce Hirsch, whoِ researches infectious diseases atِ North Shore University Hospital inِ Manhasset, N.Y., saidِ the antibodies couldِ indeed beِ the result ofِ such abortive infections, whichِ occur whenِ a virus enters theِ body butِ dies beforeِ multiplying significantly.

A deadly infection

Regardless ofِ howِ the antibodies developed, theِ study highlights theِ severe rabies risk thatِ Peruvian populations face, Rupprecht said.
But thereِ haveِ beenِ only threeِ cases ofِ people inِ the U.S.
The newِ findings shouldِ notِ causeِ anyoneِ to assume thatِ rabies isِ less deadly thanِ thought, andِ proper precautions shouldِ still beِ taken byِ people who’ve possibly beenِ exposed, Hirsch said..