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Rabid Blood-Sucking Bats in Peru Kill 12

Twelve indigenous children from the Achuar tribes in Peru have died of rabies after being bitten by blood-sucking bats, while several more are still battling the disease.

While AFP reported all of the victims as children, Reuters cites regional governor Fernando Melendez saying three of the 12 dead were children. The victims all lived in jungle communities in the Amazon region of Loreto, near the Morona River basin.

“The death of even one child is grave. Today the people of Loreto are living a tragedy,” said Melendez.

According to regional health official Hermann Silva, indigenous leaders told health care workers “the community thought the children’s deaths were due to witchcraft, and that was why they didn’t report the outbreak in time.”

AFP reports a 9-year-old boy and 22-year-old woman are among those still recovering from rabies inflicted by bat bites.

Peru’s central government has declared a health state of emergency in the area, and is sending medical aid, including vaccination teams, according to AFP.

“Rabies deaths from bat bites are rare in Peru, where native Amazonian tribes tend to lack access to basic healthcare and emergencies can go unattended for days,” notes the UK Guardian.

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