US Sees 1st Death by Vampire Bat Bite
19-year-old died in Louisiana but was bit in Mexico, CDC finds
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 12, 2011 10:03 AM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – For the first time in history, someone has died inside the US after being bitten by a vampire bat, according to a new CDC report. A 19-year-old Mexican man worked a single day at a Louisiana sugar cane plantation last year before fatigue, numbness, and pain in his shoulder sent him to a local hospital. He was tested for a wide range of diseases, including HIV, herpes, and Lyme. The possibility of a vampire bat bite didn’t come up: The bats don’t live in the US except in zoos, MSNBC reports.

Doctors eventually considered rabies, and the young man tested positive—a day before he died. An investigation revealed that he had been bitten on the heel by the bloodsucking creature while asleep in southwest Mexico, 10 days before heading to Louisiana, the AFP notes. The rare form of rabies took just 15 days to incubate; most US rabies cases take closer to 85 days. The case “highlights the growing importance of bats in public health,” said the CDC. “Research suggests that the range of these bats might be expanding as a result of changes in climate.” Head to the Huffington Post for more on the vampire bat case.