Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Peruvian Villagers Displaying Resistance to Rabies Virus

Peruvian villagers residing in a vampire bat ridden part of the Amazon appear to have developed a resistance to the rabies virus. Individuals tested in two separate villages had the anti-rabies antibody present in their blood suggesting exposure to the virus. It is apparent that the individuals had been bitten, exposed to the virus, and survived without medical intervention. Only one resident from either village reported ever receiving the rabies vaccine.

 Previous conventional wisdom would have us believe that rabies is one of the most deadly diseases-killing 100% of its victims. How are the Peruvian villagers escaping this same death sentence? Vampire bats feed off mammalian blood at night in the Amazon region. In the absence of adequate food sources they are known to feed off humans. It is being hypothesized that their gentle bite “may deliver a much lower dose of the virus” in comparison to other larger virus carrying mammals.

 The Center for Disease Control warns that this newly discovered resistance does not suggest that medical intervention stops vaccinating against the virus after an animal bite. It is estimated every year that 55,000 people die from exposure to the rabies virus. The public needs to continue to be cautious of exposure to the deadly virus. Further research is needed and is currently being conducted into the immunity that the Peruvian villagers exhibit.

 Angeline Latsch (3)


  1. Wait, these bats eat humans? That's scary! If these bats deliver a much a loser dose of the virus, would humans still be likely to catch rabies from just one bite?

    - Kimberly Ty (3)

  2. This is another example of human evolution in a particularly intense environment. Just like malaria resistance in sickle cell anemia patients the human population is constantly adapting to its surroundings through inhibiton, deleterious, and gain of function mutations in the genetic code.

    Celina Keating (3)

  3. I find it interesting how our DNA changes, and hearing about people having resistance to certain diseases or viruses seems pretty awesome.

    Cynthia Bui (1)

  4. Its mind-blowing how far we as humans have evolved and are able to survive in such dangerous parts of the world because of natural selection.

    Gabrielle Wertheim (3)

  5. I'm wondering how long and how many generation it did take for humans to develop this natural resistance to the rabies virus?

    Setareh Sepasi (3)

  6. This is pretty cool. The earliest vaccines were just less virulent forms of the disease that they were trying to cure. So, I guess it makes sense that smaller doses of the rabies virus would be easier for the body to fight and gain immunity to. Is that estimate for deaths worldwide or in the US? This would definitely be a nice alternative to the very painful rabies shot currently in use.

    Kaitlin Jones (3)

  7. Kimberly, the vampire bat does not literally eat humans-in the absence of another mammal meal they may bite humans. Their hypothesis is their bite may deliver such a small dose of the virus that the humans body is able to build antibodies against the virus.

  8. I thought this article was an excellent exhibit of human evolution. I think this would be a very interesting study to be a part of and to see how it may change the way medical intervention fights the rabies virus.

  9. This is a great article! I want to see more research done with this, mainly because rabies is such a high kill ratio virus, and it's interesting to see what it could be that helps these Peruvian people fend of the rabies virus. It's certainly not a big issue here in the U.S., but 3rd world countries with many stray animals and more potential for rabies to spread would be helpful to the endemic people living there.

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