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In-country rabies diagnosis now available in Belize

Published on Thursday, July 12, 2007

BELMOPAN, Belize: Belize now has the capability to identify the source of rabies virus. The in-country facility is capable of diagnosing rabies in animals and pinpointing the source of the virus causing rabies. This has been accomplished through the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA).

Belize has a long history of rabies. The Annual Reports of the Ministry of Agriculture report cases in cattle in the Cayo District in the 1930s. Rabies has also been reported in other animals: horses, pigs, dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes and man.

The rabies virus has been sourced from dogs, foxes and vampire bats, with the vampire bat being the most common source of the virus, particularly in cattle. Records show that the vampire bat was the source of the rabies virus in a dog from the Orange Walk District in the mid 1980's.

Given that rabid animals can transfer the disease to people and people have been affected in the past in Belize, there has always been a great need to diagnose rabies. Suspect samples used to be sent to Guatemala, then Panama and, recently, Guatemala again.

Though BAHA can now diagnose rabies, samples will continue to be sent to regional laboratories for quality control.

The strengthening of BAHA's laboratory capability was initiated by PAHO in the late nineties, when they donated a fluorescent microscope to the veterinary diagnostic laboratory.

Mexico, through a bilateral project, completed the process through training of laboratory technicians, both in Mexico and Belize. In the last month, Mexico transferred the technology to Belize, sending three scientists from SAGARPA and INIFAP to conduct diagnostic testing for the rabies virus and the source of the virus.

Thus, BAHA's veterinary diagnostic laboratory at Central Farm, Cayo District can report that its testing in Belize has shown that the vampire bat is responsible for the rabies cases reported in cattle in Cayo District in 2005 and 2006.

BAHA's veterinary laboratory, with continued support from government and partners in development, will further strengthen its diagnostic capability for rabies, as well as for other animal diseases. BAHA has committed to ensure that animals in Belize will routinely vaccinated for rabies.



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Innocent species of Bats are going to suffer from this, The population of vampire bats has sored due to deforestation decreasing the population of its natural enemy, disrupting the balance and replacing its habitat with fields of cattle that it thrives on. The logging and cattle industry are to blame.
Bats are useful and do necessary tasks for health of the rainforest. If we over react and kill bats indiscriminately we could create bigger problems.
Humans have caused the imbalance that created this plague, one of those little lessons about screwing with mother nature.


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The CDC here in the US has some really serious recommendations when it comes to bats. If a person wakes up and finds a bat in the bedroom with them (and the bat isn't caught), the recommendation is for the family to get vaccinated against rabies.

I like sitting on our deck at night and watching the bats catch bugs. Since everyone is so paranoid about them, I fear they might not be around much longer. People are much more aggressive about getting them out of attics and such.

I have friends who have literally dove under the table when I pointed out the bats flying about.

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Bats are our friends! Elbert - correct me if I'm wrong - but aren't the lovely creatures we see here fruit bats?


Harriette
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I was just about to ask the same question. I have tons of bats around the yard at home. I enjoy watching them. Hate it when the poop on the deck though - its a tough job cleaning it up sometimes.

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There's a great book on bats by Brock Fenton who I had the pleasure of meeting while I was out at Lamanai. The Bat: Wings in the Night Sky http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1552092534/lamanaifieldr-20

Brock did a large amount of bat research while visiting Lamanai including research on vampire bats and the impact of the growing cattle industry in the area.

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Their are about 6 species on the Island and they all seem to like fruit and bugs. If you want to find one during the day look for chewed almonds on the ground under a young (not the super tall) coconut tree, look up from where the almonds lay and notice them hanging up side down or if not check the coconut frond stem for little claw marks directly above the almonds on the ground. We have Vampire bats on the island but they never bother anything and don't seem to be over populated or diseased. However one of the hotels in San Pedro has a fancy blow dart gun that they discreetly use on bats.Just to control them around the hotel.
Carol Miller, the author of '100 birds in Belize' has a Husband, Bruce that is the Batman of Belize I've heard some very fine lectures hes presented at Chan Chich. He has high tech gear that id's them by sound.can walk through the jungle at night an locate them with his hand held dish connected to his lap top. Batphobia is unrealistic no need to go batty over the Island bats.


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In a normal healthy habitation they won't be a problem. balance is everything.70 to 80 species in Belize,that don't have bad reputations.


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I have almond trees sprouting up under other trees where the bats hang out.

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Yep and thats one of the many things they do for the world, spread seeds.


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