Escudo de la República de Colombia

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Rabies transmitted by bats to cattle controlled

Known as the common vampire (Desmodus rotundus), this bat species attacks cattle and could produce a series of diseases which diminish milk production and produce animal death, causing great economic loss.

Palmira, 29 de marzo de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

Mist net installation for capturing bats.

Cow affected by bat bites.

Bat captured with help of ICA.

Bat transmitter of the rabies virus captured at the municipality of Los Andes.

Applying vampericide cream to a bat population.

Cattle vaccination against wild rabies.

Issues have been present since June of 2015 in the lower part of the municipality of Los Andes, Province of Nariño, where recent cattle deaths have been reported with symptoms similar to the rabies virus. 

“We suspected it was wild rabies because some cattle showed similar symptomatology signs, such as paralysis, red eye, and drooling among others,” said Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) in Palmira Zootechnician Eliana Perengüez Arciniegas. 

Therefore Perengüez and fellow Zootechnician Cristian Solarte Bacca provided support to the Office of the Agricultural Secretary of Los Andes and the Colombian Agricultural and Livestock Institute (ICA, for its Spanish acronym) of Pasto to adopt control and prevention measures. 

If first place they took samples of the nervous system of dead cattle and sent them to ICA specialized laboratories where they confirmed that it was effectively rabies what had been impacting the cattle. Afterwards they linked the disease to vampire bats. 

“In cattle the virus incubation period is long, with variations between 25 and 150 days. The predominant symptoms are paralysis, posterior limb uncoordinated movements and goosebumps,” said Perengüez. 

Other symptoms are sleepiness and depression with tears and nasal dripping. Fury accesses are rare and muscular tremor can also be present as well as restlessness, hypersensitivity and jaw irritation. Animals also have excessive and foamy drooling accompanied by pronounced constipation and thick, dry and fetid feces. 

Vaccination day 

The symptomatic period lasts between two and five days and finally the animal dies due to asphyxia. In cattle the most susceptible victims to bat attacks are calves less than one year old. Bats are prone to bite areas such as the neck, loins, tail and the ventral region. 

Based on this scenario they began a vaccination plan which controlled and vaccinated 1,990 of 3,462 (63%) of the cattle of the area from 276 properties. Furthermore they took care of 100% of wild rabies cases of the outbreak thanks to the support from zootechnicians and other competent authorities including ICA, the office of the Mayor, the Agriculture Secretary, the Epidemiological Monitoring Committee, the local Health Directorate and the Environmental Health Office among others.

Additionally along with the authorities they devised an emergency protocol and produced informational brochures to socialize among the community. 

Regarding bats, they visited the locations they suspected their presence and using mist nets they captured some specimens. They then applied vampericide cream to the capture bats with the purpose of controlling the population. 

The breeds of cattle most impacted by bats in the Province of Valle del Cauca, were Cebu (40 attacks), Mestizo (30 attacks), crossbreeds (20 attacks) and European (10 attacks) in the municipalities of Zarzal, La Victoria, Obando, Cartago and El Águila. In each of these locations bats attack 20 cows a day, 70 a week and 10 every fifteen days.

(Por: Fin/HAA/DMH/APBL
)
N.° 379

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